Call for Artists: STEPS 2021 CreateSpace BIPOC Public Art Residency


Franco-Ontarian graffiti artist Mique Michelle photographed by May Shi.

Are you, or an artist you know, interested in gaining experience, building networks and professional skills needed to launch or expand a public art practice?

STEPS believes public art has the ability to challenge the systemic inequities that exist in public space. In support of this important work, we facilitate programs that: foster inclusive public art practices; build the capacity of artists who are underrepresented in Canadian public art and demonstrate the power of art to reimagine equitably designed cities.

We are thrilled to launch CreateSpace, a national public art residency program designed in consultation with advisors from coast to coast, to provide emerging Black, Indigenous and racialized artists with the skills, relationships and practical experience needed to take their public art practice to the next level.

CreateSpace artists-in-residence will gain:

  • Skills: virtual workshops, artist talks and studio visits for greater understanding of the public art process through the lens of Community, Identity, Accessibility, and Land, including: demystifying public art RFPs, exploring fabrication and approaches to public engagement.
  • Relationships: opportunities to connect with public art practitioners from across the country, cultivating professional networks in various sectors and industries.
  • Practical Experience: creating new public work with tailored coaching from STEPS staff and artistic advisors, through which experimentation is encouraged.
  • Public Audiences: through promotional support leveraging STEPS and partner network, as well as supports to document and present past and current public work.
  • Financial Support: artists will each receive a $1000 stipend to support their participation, as well as have the opportunity to request additional accessibility, production, documentation and engagement resources.

This residency is open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space, who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) or racialized, interested in participating in a virtual residency from March through December 2021. Up to ten residents will be selected for this opportunity by a review panel of BIPOC members of the arts community, with half of CreateSpace’s first first cohort reserved for applicants who express a willingness to exhibit work in partnership with ArtworxTO. Program components will be offered primarily in English, with translation and ASL services available as needed to support participation of a diverse community of artists. Applicants must be a Canadian citizen, or Permanent Resident to qualify for this opportunity.

Interested applicants must submit their expressions of interest by January 31, 2021 at 11:59pm EST. Those living outside of the Eastern time zone are encouraged to use a timezone converter to ensure your application is received by the deadline. More information on the application process and what participants can expect can be found at

CreateSpace is in partnership with ArtworxTO: Toronto‘s Year of Public Art 2021, and supported by TD Bank Group.


As part of their participation in CreateSpace, Artists in Residence with support from STEPS staff and mentors are expected to:

  • Attend in at least 15 of approx. 20 residency sessions held over 10 months which will include: workshops, artist talks, facilitated discussions, studio visits, etc. We estimate each session to be an hour to an hour and a half time commitment per session. These sessions will run primarily between 1pm and 8pm EST, Monday through Saturdays.
  • Identify and execute a public art project by the end of the residency.
    ◦  While residents are NOT expected to have well thought out plans for a public art project at the time of their application, having a project concept and clearly defined learning objectives for advancing your public art practice are important to make the most of the support STEPS and CreateSpace partners can provide.
  • Contribute to the planning and execution of one CreateSpace virtual public event through serving as a speaker, panelist, facilitator or moderator. This is an opportunity to develop your public engagement skills and reach new audiences with your work!
  • Participate in ongoing program evaluation that will help shape the CreateSpace Public Art Residency and other artist capacity building programming.
  • Respect the time and knowledge of CreateSpace advisors, mentors, staff and fellow participating artists, by committing to cultivate a safe, inclusive, supportive and respectful space for learning, exploration and growth.

Key Program Dates

  • Submission Deadline: January 31, 2021
  • Results Communicated: February 2021
  • Residency Begins: March 2021
  • Residency Programming: March – November
  • Public Artwork Production/ Installation Period: June – September
  • Residency Concludes: December 2021

How to apply
To apply, please click here to fill out the application form by January 31, 2021 at 11:59pm EST.

PLEASE NOTE: Applicants cannot save the form and return to complete it at a later time. We strongly recommend downloading the following form and saving your answers on a separate document prior to filling out the online form.

We encourage all applicants to visit the STEPS website prior to preparing this application to have a better understanding of the organization that will be facilitating this residency. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the 2021 CreateSpace Public Art Residency program are here.

Applicants who are Deaf, have a disability, or who need support applying for this opportunity are encouraged to contact Janet Hinkle, STEPS Program Coordinator at or call 416.366.6565 ex. 2 at least two weeks before the submission deadline (January 17, 2021) to allow STEPS to appropriately accommodate your needs and to discuss alternate formats for submitting your application.

How will submissions be assessed?
Residency spots will be awarded on a competitive basis by a review committee of Black, Indigenous and racialized public art practitioners from across Canada. Review committee members have been selected on the basis of their familiarity with a broad spectrum of public art practices, specialized expertise, fair-mindedness, and regional representation. The committee will assess submissions based on: clarity of learning objectives and/or public art project concept; alignment with needs and residency supports; and merit of applicant’s arts practice.