The City of Salem is committed to enriching & enlivening the urban environment through showcasing innovative & transformative works of art in all media & modalities. With a focus on working with local artists, especially those historically underrepresented, we seek to foster greater community awareness of & interaction with the arts and celebrate diversity in all its forms. Our goal is to nurture diversity & creativity; foster a sense of community pride & belonging; and enhance the quality of life for all.
In our work to achieve this mission, which the Salem Public Art Master Plan helped to set forth in 2013, Arts & Culture oversees the City of Salem’s Public Art Commission, which funds and selects the Salem Public Art Collection, and the Salem Cultural Council, in addition to City owned arts & culture locations. Various locations include Artists’ Row, Old Town Hall, Derby Square, and Charlotte Forten Park. A full list, with a brief description for each, can be found below. For additional information about specific Arts & Culture areas in Salem please use the sidebar located to the left and you will be redirected to the appropriate page. For a general overview of all current Arts & Culture programs and events managed by the City of Salem please visit our Programs & Events page.
Artists' RowArtists’ Row – With four arts ‘stalls’, a restaurant, and public restrooms, this is a seasonal program that provides artists and artisans an opportunity to build their audience and/or business while engaging with residents and Salem visitors.
Charlotte Forten Park – Named after an abolitionist, women’s right’s activist, and Salem State University’s first African-American graduate, Charlotte Forten Park was officially opened to the public in 2019. While hoping to use this part to better connect the downtown area, waterfront, and The Point, this space has been activated through camps, performances, and more. Permits for the use of Charlotte Forten Park can be found by clicking here. If you would like to learn more about this park please click here.
Derby Square – Located directly between Artists’ Row and Old Town Hall, Derby Square is named in honor of the prominent Derby family, who gifted this location to the City in 1816. In the warmer months this square is now known for hosting farmer and flea markets, performances, festivals, and other events. Permits for the use of Derby Square can be found by clicking here.
Old Town HallOld Town Hall – A National Historic Site erected in 1816, Old Town Hall is located in the heart of downtown. In its original form, this was used as a meeting and marketplace for the community. Honoring the communal use of this space, this location is now used for Arts & Culture events, as well as being available to rent for private functions. An events schedule can now be accessed through the new Calendar of Events!
Salem Public Art Collection – Funded through the Salem Public Art Commission, this ever-growing collection includes sculptures, murals, monuments, and more. Though not available at this time, an interactive map of all public art in Salem will be made available soon. For those interested in submitting a Public Art Proposal please click here for more information.
Salem Public Art Commission – Established in 2014 the Commission is comprised of seven residents of the City of Salem, appointed by the Mayor, who have backgrounds in art, architecture, landscape architecture, urban planning, art or architectural history, or design. The Commission oversees approval of an annual public art plan, reviews proposed public art projects and artists concept proposals, and more.
Salem Cultural Council – As part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC), the Salem Cultural Council is responsible for designing local funding criteria for grants and granting preliminary approvals for activities related to the arts, humanities, or interpretive sciences that have public benefit. The MCC has final approval and awards funding drawn from appropriations from the state legislature.