Call for Expressions of Interest: 50th Anniversary Public Art, City of Cambridge

Public Art Competition

Submission Deadline: Friday, May 19, 2023, 2:00 PM EDT

The Corporation of the City of Cambridge Council has directed its Arts and Culture Advisory Committee (via the Public Art Committee) to oversee the acquisition of art.

Public Art Mission and Definition of Public Art

The City of Cambridge believes that public art makes a significant positive contribution to the urban landscape, and quality of life. A healthy and creative city will support art and culture and benefit from the enhancements and contribution to the city’s identity that public art provides. Cambridge also believes that public art should be accessible to all.

In this competition the City will take an open and forward-looking approach to Public Art. Proposals are invited for a work, works or program of work that celebrates the one or more of the creative spirit, tradition of invention and industry, natural beauty and cultural heritage of the City of Cambridge. There is one fact that links the several communities that make up Cambridge – the rivers. The project should acknowledge the rivers in its location, theme, imagery, form or material. The art that will be selected for installation in public space must meet the following criteria:

  • be original, and display a high quality of design and technical skill in execution
  • be visible, accessible and engaging to the public
  • take into account the exterior site regarding exposure to weather, durability, permanence, maintenance, safety and vandal proofing
  • may involve aesthetic, historic or commemorative objects
  • may include sculptures, carvings, metal works, special architectural, digital technologies or landscape features

Public art in this case does not include plaques, or museum or archival collections, which may from time to time be displayed in adjacent public places.

Commission Process

The Arts and Culture Advisory Committee (via the Public Art Committee) is responsible to Council for overseeing the entire process of commissioning the work, including the terms of reference; the distribution of information and requirements; and acting as a liaison with city staff and the selection jury. The jury is under no obligation to select any of the submissions, and all decisions are subject to City Council approval, up to and including commissioning and installing the work.


The allowance available to the artist will be up to a maximum of $250,000, inclusive of all expenses. The allowance for the artwork must include any expenses incurred by the artist to produce and install the artwork.

*The artist must carry the appropriate insurance from the signing of the contract until completion when the artwork is signed over to The City of Cambridge. The City of Cambridge requires $2 million liability/damage insurance.

Artist Eligibility

The public art competition is national in scope and open to:

  1. professional visual artists, architects, landscape architects or teams
  2. Canadian citizens or permanent residents
  3. 18 years and over

Selection Criteria

  1. the ability to work collaboratively with others, including City of Cambridge staff;
  2. an understanding of the community;
  3. a proven track record in public art commissions;
  4. originality, imagination, and artistic merit;
  5. experience working with the materials being proposed;
  6. appropriateness of the concept and design to the site;
  7. appropriateness of the materials specific to the outdoor, public environment;
  8. feasibility in implementation;
  9. the ability to adhere to the overall schedule;
  10. the ability to install in the timeframe requested; and
  11. compliance with the competition requirements

Selection Process

A two-stage process will be conducted as follows:

Stage One:
An open call to submit an expression of interest and a statement indicating the general outlines of a proposal, including a suggested site. This site must be on City owned property.

Stage Two:
The jury will select a short list of artists from the Stage One submissions to a maximum of 5 proposals. The short-listed artists will be invited to discuss and obtain approval for the siting of the piece or pieces. Once the siting is approved the short-listed artists will be invited to develop their proposals.

Stage Two Selection Process
All Stage Two artists and/or artist teams will be paid an honorarium of $2,000 per submission, plus travel expenses if warranted. Travel expenses must be pre-approved and original receipts must be submitted. Artists and/or artist teams invited to submit proposals for Stage Two may be invited to present their proposal in person.

Material Disclosures

The successful artist must sign a contract with the City of Cambridge. The contract will include a schedule of payment for fabrication and installation. The artist will be expected to produce regular progress reports.

The final work and requisite documentation will become the property of the City of Cambridge. At project completion, the artist will provide the City of Cambridge with a detailed art documentation report.

Submission Requirements

Each respondent should provide the following in its response:

  1. A typed letter of interest outlining qualifications, past work, and qualities relevant to this project. Describe the general design concept and rationale for an artwork installation of this type;
  2. Provide a curriculum vitae (c.v.), including public art commissions (maximum of 2 pages including reviews/articles). If this is a team application, please include a c.v. for each team member;
  3. Submit a proposed design and/or program of work. This is not the final detailed submission, but a clear indication of the concept. The proposal must include a brief written narrative and simple images. You must include a proposal for the location(s), which may be specific or generic at this stage depending on the nature of the proposal;
  4. Provide one set of 15-20 JPEG images of past work. Images must be clearly titled and numbered;
  5. Provide an annotated image list, including brief description of project, date and location; and annotated list of images.

Please contact the staff liaison for the full Expression of Interest & details on the jury.

City of Cambridge
c/o 60 Dickson Street
Cambridge, ON
N1R 8N1