Call for Submissions: Transform the Trail 2023/24 Public Art Commission at The Bentway

Transform the Trail:
Temporary Public Art Commission at The Bentway

PUBLIC INFORMATION SESSION: January 19, 2023 (Sign-up here!)
APPLICATION DEADLINE: January 31, 2023 at 11:59 P.M.
PROJECT DURATION: mid-December 2023 – late February 2024


The Bentway Conservancy is pleased to announce a call for expressions of interest for its Transform the Trail program, which seeks an annual artistic collaborator to build new and positive relationships with both The Bentway site and the winter season. Each year The Bentway supports a new temporary commission that remakes the site’s signature figure-eight skating trail and surrounding footprint. The program aims to support artistic experimentation, highlight the unique creative potential of the winter season in Toronto, and enhance the skating experience at The Bentway.

The Bentway invites artists, designers, and creative collectives to submit an expression of interest for a temporary public art project on The Bentway site, which will be on display to the public from December 2023 – February 2024.


For many, winter is the city’s least inspiring season. Long nights and chilled temperatures often lead urban dwellers to retreat during the coldest months in collective hibernation.

The Bentway strives to support civic life across the full calendar year, and believes winter is a time to be celebrated and not just endured. Each year from December through February, the site becomes a primary cold-weather destination, anchored by unique figure-8 skating trail that has quickly become one of Toronto’s most beloved urban amenities. Looping The Bentway’s iconic columns, the trail is a site for recreation and innovation, presenting both the park and a familiar winter sport anew each season.

Launched in 2021, The Bentway’s annual Transform the Trail program seeks an artistic collaborator to build new and positive relationships with The Bentway site and the winter season. Artists and designers will be asked to embrace, and collaborate with, the winter climate; to educate, to innovate, to comfort, and even to inspire the people of Toronto — no matter the weather. These site-specific interventions will become signature features of The Bentway’s winter season, solidifying the park’s identity as a space where art and recreation meet and inspire.

The recent 2022-2023 Transform the Trail program supported a new commission by Toronto-based Shellie Zhang. Beacons (2022) consists of five vibrant sculptures that light up the Gardiner’s concrete columns. The project is inspired by Zhang’s conversations with newcomers to the city as well as her own experience arriving in Canada in the winter, and how efforts of collectives and friendly strangers helped brighten the otherwise cold and gloomy winter months.

Though each project within the Transform the Trail program differs all artists are asked to respond to the following primary objectives:

Art and Recreation
Explore new techniques for merging culture and recreation to broaden prospective audiences and augment familiar winter experiences.

Day to Night
Embrace colour and light to enhance the trail and surrounding landscape equally by day and by night.

Uniquely Urban
Develop strategies that celebrate The Bentway’s architectural features and the unique qualities of an urban winter landscape.

Collaborate with Climate
Address the weather conditions in winter and the natural materials within the winter landscape and find new ways to apply and engage with them.


Applications are open to Canadian artists, designers or creative collectives seeking an opportunity engage with the public and create a new experience within this dynamic space.

Applicants must demonstrate an ongoing creative practice and have a history of public presentation. We encourage applications from artists, designers, and collectives at varying stages of their career.

The Bentway is committed to fostering a positive and supportive environment that promotes equity and diversity. We invite applications from Indigenous and racialized people, people with disabilities, and people from 2SLGBTQ+ communities.


The available artwork budget is $140,000 inclusive of all costs including artist fees, design, travel & accommodations, materials, supplemental insurance, engineering expenses, fabrication, delivery, installation, and de-install. The Bentway will provide supplemental funding for marketing and promotions, as well as programming and production support throughout the process.


This public art commission will be awarded following a two-stage competitive process.

Stage 1: Expressions of Interest (January 3)
The initial round of applications will be reviewed by The Bentway’s internal programming staff and evaluated in accordance with the criteria detailed below. A maximum of 4 shortlisted creatives will be invited to participate in Stage 2 and prepare design proposals for further consideration.

Stage 2: Design Proposals
Shortlisted artists will meet with The Bentway team for an information and onboarding session, either in person or remotely, and will be given a fulsome brief for preparing the design proposal, a high level budget in accordance with the allocation noted above, and project schedule. A mid-term session will also be organized where Bentway staff will provide feedback on the technical and logistical feasibility of the proposed artwork.

Each shortlisted artist will be paid an honorarium of $3,000.

Following the submission deadline, complete design proposals will be evaluated by The Bentway’s Arts Advisory – a core committee of arts practitioners and supporters. Following deliberations and the final decision, the selected creative will be contacted by date.

Transform the Trail Timeline:

  • Call-for-Expressions of Interest released: January 4, 2023
  • Open information session for prospective applicants: January 19, 2023 (Sign-up here!)
  • Application deadline: January 31, 2023 at 11:59 P.M.
  • Shortlisted artists notified and creative brief distributed: February 4, 2023
  • Deadline for design proposals: March 9, 2023
  • Evaluation of design proposals: mid-March, 2023
  • Finalist notified: end of March, 2023
  • Project development: April 1-November, 2023
  • Public presentation: mid-December 2023-late February 2024


  • Demonstrated experience and ability executing temporary and site-responsive work in public space.
  • Ability to respond to The Bentway’s stated project objectives and programming principles.
  • Ability to engage with the unique conditions of the winter season and reach broad audiences.


Application information and submissions can be found at:


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