Master of Arts in Visual Arts Administration

Black and white photo of Sergio Pardo López, who sits backward in a chair, one arm draped over the chair back, and the other hand on his face.

Enriching Public Life with Art

By Orlando Lima
Portrait by Robert Nethery

In 1982, Mayor Ed Koch signed into law a mandate that 1 percent of the budget for city-funded construction projects be spent on public art. Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development graduate Sergio Pardo López oversees the Percent for Art program at the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. This currently includes 137 projects, across all five boroughs, with a budget of nearly $27 million. He’s also tasked with creating historic context for the city’s monuments.
    Pardo López earned an architecture degree from Polytechnic University of Madrid in his native Spain before spending some time in the United States as a visiting scholar at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Years later, he won a Fulbright to attend NYU. His background in both architecture and arts administration comes into play as he endeavors to place public works at the forefront of the conversation about the purpose and impact of art.
    “We work to create a sense of ownership by the local community from the beginning,” Pardo López says. “Even when the artist has an idea for a piece, the community gives it new meaning by the way they engage and activate it.”

“We work to create a sense of ownership by the local community from the beginning.”