Sunday, February 25, 2024

Call for Artists: Residency at the Providence Office of Sustainability

Note: This page can be translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer using the button to your bottom left. The application portal on is in English only. Please call the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism for assistance with the application should you need support.


The City of Providence invites RI-based professional artists to utilize arts and culture strategies to catalyze transformation and just transition from fossil fuels.

The awarded artist will receive a one-year residency in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability where they will create new original work to engage Providence residents in the strategies outlined in the Providence Climate Justice Plan. The plan was created in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and members of the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee and aims to create an equitable, low-carbon, and climate-resilient Providence through a comprehensive set of proposed policies and initiatives. For more information, please visit:

The selected artist will have an all-inclusive budget of $25,000 and will be engaged for 12 months, which will include an initial immersion period, followed by proposing a project and time to implement the project. The artist will be asked to focus on the port of providence and to support the development of a Green Justice Zone in the adjacent neighborhood of South Providence and Washington Park.

The residency will run from approximately April 2020 to March 2021.

The artist will work collaboratively with the Providence Office of Sustainability, and Department of Art, Culture + Tourism staff throughout the process and should have an interest in exploring climate resiliency with frontline communities of color.

The application deadline is January 29, 2020


Background and Context

ACT Public Art’s residency program places artists in City facilities and offices to engage directly with residents and staff. Through these residencies, artists develop projects that infuse artistic practices and artists’ creative problem solving into residents’ lives and the everyday operations of the City.

Providence’s Climate Justice Plan is a collaboration between the Mayor’s O­ffice of Sustainability, the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee and Providence’s frontline communities of color most impacted by the crises of ecology, economy, and democracy, including the Indigenous, African-American, Black, Latinx, and Southeast Asian communities in Providence, with a particular emphasis on people of color who are refugees and immigrants, people with criminal records, those who speak languages other than English, and LGBTQ.

The plan provides near-term policy and program recommendations to meet concrete carbon reduction targets in the buildings, energy, and transportation sectors. The plan also proposes systemic changes necessary for our governance structures, economic system, and community health for society to transition from fossil fuels in a just and equitable process.

The climate crises we now face have roots that reach back to Providence’s prominent role in both the transatlantic slave trade and the industrial revolution. P. As documented in the Climate Justice Plan, in 1790 Moses Brown and Samuel Slater opened the first water-powered cotton spinning factory in the United States in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, thus beginning a new age of industrialization. Immigrants flocked to Providence and other booming industrial towns. New technologies like the steam engine and the internal combustion engine fueled a rapid increase in the demand for coal, oil, and other fossil fuels, and global capitalism as we know it today was born. Industrialization dramatically altered landscapes and cultures as the profits of the mills and the local economy boomed. Providence’s economic success came at a human and environmental cost. It depended on cheap cotton from the south, which was grown and harvested by slave-labor; indigenous communities lost their access and rights to the land; and rivers were polluted with toxic chemicals as mills and other industries dumped untreated waste into them. More than 200 years later, our post-industrial landscape remains contaminated with lead that poisons 10 to 30% of our kindergarten-age children, depending on the neighborhood.

We’ve learned a great deal since the early days of industrialization. We now know that dumping pollutants into our environment has serious health consequences. We also know that burning fossil fuels is causing our planet to warm to dangerous levels and emits co-pollutants that are disproportionately impacting the health of low-income communities of color in Providence. We have known this for decades, but thus far, the solutions being proposed and implemented do not match up with the change that is needed. Changing light bulbs is not going to solve the climate or environmental crisis. If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must stop burning fossil fuels by 2050. This means we need to fundamentally transform the energy system that fuels our economy and we must reconnect with the natural systems that sustain us.

Mayor Jorge O. Elorza has set a goal for Providence to become carbon neutral by 2050 and has dedicated resources to support frontline communities to lead the charge. Frontline communities are closest to and most impacted by the issues. These communities are experiencing the impacts today. This is not an existential, long-term challenge; it is their daily survival. When the most impacted are centered in a decision-making process, the resulting interventions and solutions are transformative.

 The plan sets forth seven key objectives, 20+ targets, and over 50 strategies aiming to create a truly equitable, low-carbon, climate-resilient city. One such strategy that has been identified as a priority by the REJC is creating a Green Justice Zone in South Providence near the port area. This will be the focus of the artist in residency.

Green Justice Zones use a collaborative governance model with frontline communities to make investments in sustainability and equity in neighborhoods that have been disinvested in and are overburdened with pollution. The City provides resources to support community members in developing action plans alongside City officials to address the priorities and concerns of the neighborhood. Green Justice Zones seek to achieve health equity, improve quality of life, and climate resilience in frontline communities. They often consider the following:

  • Microgrids in critical community spaces (i.e. schools, elder care facilities, community centers, etc.) to enable local energy generation, storage and consumption, add capacity and stability to the larger grid and operate independently at times.
  • Resiliency Hubs (see page 57 of the Climate Justice Plan).
  • Participatory budgeting processes. Weatherization, energy efficiency, electrification, and on-site renewables, especially for low-income community members.
  • Training and job opportunities in the above for local community members.
  • Policy tools such as zoning to prevent the burden of additional pollution in frontline communities.

Using speculative fiction techniques, the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee created scenarios in a future Providence where policy has supported a transformed way for people to be connected to each other, the land, and the City’s fight against climate change. Nine Stories provide different perspectives of how Providence has been transformed. The stories can be heard in English here,  and in Spanish, here:

Program Goals and Outputs

2020-2021 Residency at the Providence Office of Sustainability

The artist selected for this residency will be asked to consider the climate resiliency strategies outlined in the Climate Justice Plan related to the Port of Providence and the creation of a Green Zone in that neighborhood.

 The artist-in-residence at the Providence Office of Sustainability will work closely with the Director of Sustainability and office staff, the Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Committee, and other frontline communities to

  • Engage Providence residents in learning about environmental racism and the Just Transition strategies outlined in the Climate Justice Plan.
  • Engage new audiences through techniques that may include participatory listening, and bringing to life future stories developed by the Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Committee, and other strategies designed by the artist
  • Immerse within and assist frontline communities in Green Zone coalition building and intergenerational participation through arts strategies.

Residency Outputs

  • At the end of the residency, the artist shall provide the City with an arts-based engagement tool that may be utilized on an ongoing basis by the City to engage the public on the City’s Climate Justice goals.
  • This call is open to all disciplines, and the artist shall direct the methodology, media, and format of the arts-engagement strategies at the start of the residency.
  • The work will become part of the ACT Public Art Collection, and the City will reserve the right to display or present or use the work.


  • Applicant must be 21 years or older and hold a current Rhode Island home or studio address to be eligible to apply. Providence residents and/or artists and cultural workers will a history of working in Providence are preferred.
  • This call is open to artists working across all media. Artists that can demonstrate an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary art practice, traditional and indigenous art forms and intercultural modalities will be preferred.
  • This call is open to individual artists. This call is administered through Call for Entry and artists must set up a profile in the online system in order to complete the application successfully.
  • Applicant must have demonstrated experience with a portfolio consisting of at least three successful public art installations, gallery exhibitions, public performances, or publications.
  • Applicants must be able to demonstrate their experience as an artist with social practice with a portfolio consisting of at least one successful art-based program including but not limited to instruction, fabrication of public art and / or the production of a performance.
  • Preference will be given to artists who demonstrate cultural competency and previous experience working in intercultural modalities that foster innovation, diversity, and relevance with new audiences.
  • Multilingual applicants are preferred.
  • People of Color, Women, and LGBTQ+ artists are highly encouraged to apply.

Art Selection Method

Artists will be selected through a competitive, two-tiered process. Qualified artists may submit their Artist Statement, Resume/CV, and three to five examples of relevant projects by January 29, 2020.  Applicants must apply online through Call for Entry here:

The Art Selection Panel will review complete applications and score the submitted qualifications and select no more than five artists to shortlist as finalists.

The five shortlisted artists will then be invited to an in-person interview with the Art Selection Panel.  Prior to the interview, artists will be asked to develop a brief presentation detailing their artistic practice and how they might approach the residency and work with frontline community members of color around the strategies outlined in the Climate Justice Plan. If selected for an interview, applicants should be prepared to speak about their understanding of Providence’s frontline community members, climate resiliency and just transition, and be able to demonstrate familial, organizational, or cultural roots in Providence.

The Art Selection Panel will recommend an awarded artist to the Art in City Life Commission for approval at the March 11, 2020, regular meeting. The Department of Art, Culture + Tourism will announce the commissioned artist in residence no later than April 1, 2020.

Art Selection Panel 

The Art Selection Panel will be comprised of seven members including:

  • Art in City Life Commissioner
  • City of Providence Director of Sustainability
  • City of Providence Deputy Director of Art, Culture + Tourism
  • Member of Climate Justice Plan consultant firm, One Square World
  • A local artist
  • Two members of the Racial Equity and Environmental Justice Committee

Selection Criteria

Finalists will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Artistic excellence and innovation as evidenced by previous work.
  • Clarity and creativity of the artist’s previous community engagement practice
  • Coverletter that depicts the artist’s understanding of Providence’s frontline community members and can demonstrate familial, organizational, or cultural roots in Providence.

Artist Scope of Work

The artist-in-residence will be provided with a small desk space at the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability in City Hall. Studio and storage space will be the responsibility of the awarded artist-in-residence.

Upon award notification and acceptance, the artist shall sign a contract with the City for the activities outlined below:

  • Participate in regularly scheduled check-ins with staff from the Providence Office of Sustainability and Department of Art Culture + Tourism and the REJC
  • For the first two months, immerse themselves with the Office of Sustainability and the aforementioned key stakeholders to develop a project proposal.
  • In June 2020 submit for approval a project proposal and budget that includes engagement strategies and a plan for the development of new work and over the remaining 10 months of the residency.
  • Throughout the residency, attend and may at times lead and facilitate, off-site meetings and public engagement activities in to-be-determined locations across Providence neighborhoods. The exact schedule of events will be coordinated with the Director of Sustainability at the start of the residency.
  • Execute the action items identified in the approved project proposal
  • Develop and submit the arts-based engagement tool identified in the approved project proposal.

To Submit

To apply, go online to the CaFÉ homepage at and create a free artist account. CaFÉ is free to use and there is no entry fee for this call.  Under “Find Calls” search for “Providence Residency at the Office of Sustainability” or follow to go directly to the call. Follow the instructions for submission, upload the required images and files, and submit. For technical questions about CaFÉ, please click on “Help” on the CaFÉ website.

Note: artist teams must create a joint profile in CaFÉ in order to complete the application successfully.

ACT will be offering a free Artist Info Session in to assist interested artists in signing up for CaFÉ and to answer any questions about this Call. If you are interested in attending the session, please email Africia Ben at and we will notify you of the time and location of the session as soon as it is confirmed.

In the CaFÉ system, you will be required to answer the following questions:

    1. Please provide a brief Artist Statement to introduce the Art Selection Panel to who you are as an artist and some of the themes and ideas you explore in your artwork. Please do not insert a resume or list of accomplishments here. We are interested in your media, discipline, and community engagement practices. (300 words maximum)
  • A cover letter that explains your interest in this project, your understanding of Providence’s frontline community members and demonstrates your familial, organizational, or cultural roots in Providence, and your community engagement/organizing experience. (no more than 2 pages)
  1. You will also be required to attach the following files and information in your online submission:
  • a resume of no more than 3 pages that includes the names and contact information for three references
  • up to 10 images of past work (may include a mix of JPEGs, websites, audio clips, and/or videos (60-second clips only).
  • the following for each work sample submitted: artist’s name, artwork title, a brief description of the artwork (100 words or less), medium, completion date, dimensions, total budget/cost (please use the Price/Value field in CaFE). In the description field, please include commissioning entity, if applicable, and state your role in the creation of the artwork if other artists or design professionals were involved in its creation.

Project Schedule

Call to artists opens December 16, 2019
Application Deadline  January 29, 2020
Finalists interviews February 28, 2020
Art in City Life Commission approval March 11, 2020
Residency period begins April 1, 2020
Residency period closes March 30, 2021


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