Sunday, February 25, 2024

This call is now closed.

We are thrilled to share our four awarded artists for the Public Art Ideas Competition! Congratulations to Walker Mettling, Tracy Silva Barbosa, Ryan Cardoso and artist team Lyza Baum and Kristen Haines.

ACT Public Art: Public Art Ideas Competition

The City of Providence Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, and the Providence Art in City Life Commission announce a call for art.

ACT Public Art, a new program of the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism, invites emerging and established artists in the Providence metropolitan area to submit an idea or concept for “Animating Public Space” that you would like to explore through a temporary work of art on City-owned public property or land. Up to four selected artists will each receive up to $10,000 to realize his/her idea during the time frame of fall 2019 to spring/summer 2020.

As this competition aims to create new opportunities for artists and to help artists gain skills necessary to work in public space, no public art experience is necessary to apply.

Submissions are due May 6, 2019.


Background/Context     Focus   Siting    Duration Artwork Goals     Selection Criteria Selection Process   Timeline Budget    Eligibility   To Submit F.A.Q.




Background and Context

About ACT Public Art and the Art in City Life Plan

ACT Public Art is a new program of the City of Providence’s Department of Art, Culture + Tourism. It was established in April 2018 with the Art in City Life Commission’s approval of the Art in City Life Plan.  ACT Public Art channels the creative energy of the city, manifesting it in a range of artwork and artists’ projects that contribute to shaping the city’s visual identity, improve the quality of life for all residents and create opportunities for engagement, connectivity and community building. The Plan recommends that ACT Public Art focus on four main Project Types: Landmark Public Artworks, Public Art Residencies, Civic Infrastructure Projects, and Temporary Projects.

The Public Art Ideas Competition is one of the key recommendations in the Temporary Projects category. It will build on ACT’s history of commissioning and displaying temporary public artwork and Providence’s identity as a place for artists to experiment and innovate in creative and organic ways. This new model will allow ACT to explore new ways of working with artists and push beyond the ways artists traditionally have been asked to display their work in public. Through this competition, ACT will provide technical and project management support to artists and help artists gain skills necessary to work in public space and at new scales. It will also facilitate new opportunities for artists to think broadly about public space and the ways their work can interact with and make an impact on the built environment, natural landscapes, and the community who uses these spaces. Selected artists will receive full project management and technical support from ACT staff and consultants, in addition to funding.


Focus: Animating Public Space

This pilot round of The Public Art Ideas Competition will focus on City-owned property and the broad idea of Animating Public Space. Artists will create projects that bring new life to Providence’s public spaces and create new ways of interacting in or with public spaces. We are seeking projects that impact how we experience Providence’s shared spaces – from how we act and what we do when we are in these spaces, to our views or perceptions of what public space is and can be – encouraging exploration, curiosity and a new way of interacting with public space and each other.



Artists or artist teams may submit their ideas for temporary public art projects at City-owned locations of their choosing. Potential locations could include streetscapes, City facilities and buildings, and City parks. Artists need not limit their proposals to these locations and may put forward additional ideas for the location of their artworks, as long as the locations are publicly accessible/visible and owned by the City of Providence. ACT staff and consultants will work with selected artists to secure agreements for placement, liability and maintenance during the proposal and project development process. If agreements cannot be secured, the artist will need to choose another location. Artworks may NOT be located within the PVDFest footprint, defined as the area bound by Greene St., Fountain St., Weybosset St., and Dorrance St.

While specific locations for projects are NOT required at this stage, you may view the City’s GIS map to learn more about which parcels of land and buildings the City owns. To do so, click on a parcel and zoom in to be able to click on a particular address. A small card will appear, right-click the right facing triangle to view the property card. Not all parcel owners are listed. We will assist finalists with site owner information and site permission during the second phase of the selection process.



All works must be temporary. Works must be on view for at least six months and no more than two years.  Selected artists can install their work as early as October 2019, but installations will be coordinated so that there is a period in Spring/Summer 2020 when all commissioned works are available for the public to see.


Artwork Goals

Projects commissioned through the Public Art Ideas Competition should:

  • Bring new life to Providence’s public spaces and encourage new ways of interacting with or in public space;
  • Impact how the public experiences Providence’s shared spaces and/or our ideas about public space;
  • Facilitate the activation, animation, exploration and discovery of City-owned public property or land; and
  • Aspire to the highest level of creativity and excellence in art-making as practiced in the field of public art.

Selection Criteria

Finalists will be selected based on the following criteria:

  • Relationship of the artist’s idea to the context of the Public Art Ideas Competition and the Artwork Goals stated above.
  • Clarity and creativity of the artist’s idea.
  • Artistic excellence and innovation as evidenced by past work.
  • Feasibility of the idea and ability of the artwork to be completed within the set timeline.


Selection Process

Artists or artists teams will be selected using a two-phase process. In this first phase, artists and artist teams are invited to submit their qualifications and a letter outlining the idea or concept they would like to explore through a temporary public art project. Submittals will be reviewed by an Art Selection Panel, who will select up to 7 finalists.

In the second phase, finalists will be asked to develop their concept further and present it to the Art Selection Panel. Finalists will be provided with an honorarium of $750. Finalists will be invited to meet with the appropriate City staff to determine site availability and restrictions.

The final selection of up to four artists or artist teams will be made by the Panel based upon the concept proposals and will be approved by the Art in City Life Commission.



Artist Info Session Early April (date and location TBD)
Submissions Due May 6, 2019
Finalists Selected Late May 2019
Finalists present concepts to Artist Selection Panel; Up to 4 projects selected August 2019
Artists can begin installation (based on individual timeline) As early as October 2019
All projects on display and Project Celebration occurs Spring/Summer 2020



Each artist selected will have a budget of up to $10,000 to fabricate, install, and de-install their work. Project budgets will be inclusive of final design, supplies, insurance, engineering, fabrication, delivery, installation, de-installation, and travel (if applicable). Finalists will be asked to submit detailed project budgets in Phase 2. In addition, artists will be expected to participate in related programmings, such as a project celebration.  Artists will also receive project management support from ACT Public Art staff and consultants.



This opportunity is open to established and emerging artists and artist teams 18 years or older, defined as those who have specialized training in the field and/or a history of an exhibition as an artist, and are recognized as artists by peers and arts professionals. Artists must live or work in the Providence Metro Area (defined as all of Rhode Island and Bristol County, Massachusetts) but preference will be given to artists who live or work in the City of Providence.  Artists who are currently working on a public art commission from the Department of Art, Culture + Tourism are not eligible to apply.


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 “Public Art Ideas Competition” or follow this link 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.

ACT will be offering a free Artist Info Session in early April 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 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. (300 words maximum)
  2. Describe the idea that you would like to explore for this project. Tell us how your idea relates to the concept of Animating Public Space and the Artwork Goals listed in this Call to Artists, and how your idea addresses the vision and goals of ACT Public Art. (500 words maximum)
  3. Describe a specific site or attributes of a type of site where you would like to situate your project. Specific sites are NOT required at this stage. ACT staff and consultants will assist Finalists with permissions to site selected work during Phase 2. (200 words maximum)
  4. What is the approximate duration that you would like the work to be on display for? Display duration can range from six months to two years. (50 words maximum)
  5. What are the media or materials that you are considering using at this point? (100 words maximum)
  6. You will also be required to attach the following files and information in your online submission:
  • a resume of no more than 3 pages for each artist.
  • 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, brief description of 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.
  • the names and contact information of three professional references.

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions were asked by artists who attended the April 11, 2019 Artist Info Session for the Public Art Ideas Competition.
1) Is the artist responsible for restoration of the site after deinstallation and should that be reflected in the budget?
a. Yes, the artist will be responsible for restoration of the site after de-installation of the artwork. The degree to which the site needs to be restored will be determined during the finalist phase through conversations with the City Department responsible for the property and will need to be reflected in Finalists’ budgets. Budgets are not required during this first phase of the application.

2) Will the City insure the piece?
a. No, the City does not insure temporary work. For liability purposes the artwork will be treated as public property, but it will not be appraised or insured against potential damage done to the artwork. They artist may choose to insure the artwork against damage themselves and may include that cost in their budget.

3) Is it possible to site work indoors in public buildings or does the panel prefer outdoor public space?
a. Locations must be publicly accessible/visible and owned by the City of Providence. We will prioritize locations that do not require entry into a building to view the artwork.

4) This call is open to Artist teams – how do we apply as a team in using Café? Can more than one artist submit previous materials?
a. To apply as a team, you will need to use a single person as the named applicant but indicate in your Artist Statement that you are applying as a team. Include resumes for all team members compiled together into a single file (no more than 3 pages per team member) and include images of each team member’s previous work, or work completed as a team.

5) What if we want to build a work that is more expensive than the $10,000 the City is offering? Are artists allowed to match this commission with independent capital or in-kind donations in terms of labor and materials?
a. If you are selected as a finalist, your proposal must be for a discrete project with a budget of $10,000 or less. Budgets are not required until the Finalist Phase.

6) Will we need to apply for separate permits if we want to also animate the site with programming?
a. If you are programming the site with an event you will be required to apply for a Special Event Permit. This will be discussed with Finalists during the Finalist Phase. ACT may be able to arrange waivers for smaller events, depending on the nature of the activation and what it will require in terms of services from other City Departments (ie. street closures, police detail, etc.)

7) Can we site projects on water?
a. Siting projects on water may be possible. As Finalists are developing their ideas in the Finalist Phase, a determination would need to be made by the City Department responsible for the specific body of water based on the feasibility of the proposed idea.

8) What happens if an artist chooses a site that needs to be remediated or cleaned up before install? Does the City take care of that or is it the artist’s responsibility? Should that be reflected in the budget?
a. Finalists should assume any remediation or clean-up would need to be included in their budget. This can be discussed during the Finalist Phase with the City Department responsible for the site to see if they would perhaps be willing to assist.

9) Is the artist responsible for engineering or does the City take care of that?
a. The artist is responsible for engineering of the project, if required. Finalists must design projects that can be accomplished within the $10,000 budget including, but not limited to, all costs of final design, supplies, insurance, engineering, fabrication, delivery, installation, de-installation, and travel (if applicable).

10) To what degree will the City provide labor support during install and deinstall (ie, operate a bucket lift)?
a. Finalists should assume that all labor for install and de-install would need to be included in their budget. This can be discussed during the Finalist Phase with the City Department responsible for the site.



Interested artists may submit questions about this call by April 19, 2019 to Aliza Schiff at

Responses to questions will be posted at below by April 23, 2019.

ACT will also host an optional Artist Info Session in early April to answer questions about this Call to Artists; if you would like to attend email and we will notify you of the time and location of the session as soon as it is confirmed.

A note on translation:

This page can be translated into Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer using the Translate button.   However, CAFÉ is in ENGLISH ONLY.  If you need assistance submitting materials into CAFÉ, please contact our office at 401-680-5773 or


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