Sourcing artists for public art commissions
There are several ways to source artists for public art commissions. Each method has opportunities and limitations which need to be considered when deciding which method to undertake.
An open competition through a public tender, often advertised as an ‘expression of interest’, provides the most equitable access to employment opportunities for artists including young and emerging artists, regional artists and artists from interstate and overseas.
To attract submissions for the public art commission, open competitions need to be advertised through a wide variety of media, including print and web based publications, and may also be sent directly to commercial and non-commercial galleries and arts advocacy organisations.
Artists may be sourced from existing arts advocacy organisations’ databases and/or through commercial and non-commercial galleries. Several artists may be approached for consideration and contend for the public art commission through a limited competition.
Artists may be approached directly to create work for the public art commission. There is no competition. The artist is deemed to be the only person suitable to deliver the public art commission. Often public art curators are appointed to undertake the work required for direct commissions.
Contract curator and project manager
Public art curators may be contracted by the commissioning agency to deliver the public art commission. Contract curators are professionals with specialist public art expertise. They may operate as individuals, a commercial business, or not-for-profit arts or cultural organisation. A contract curator can develop the curatorial rationale for the project, undertake the selection process for artists as described above, develop the Artwork Commission Plan and liaise with the artist on the organisation’s behalf from concept development to realisation, providing coordination of artists with sensitivity to place and artwork integrity. Some contract curators also have project management expertise and can liaise more broadly with the artist and client, coordinating and managing the public art project, undertaking community consultation and stakeholder management, conducting risk assessment and managing the artwork commissioning, timeframe and budget.
Register your expertise in public art projects by completing the Nomination Form
Access the art+place Industry Register of people with public art curatorial and project management skills