public art process

1 Identify funding

Project funding is often tied to a specific location or site. There are three main buckets of funding UAC uses to develop and deliver projects: City of Memphis' Percent-for-Art program, grant-funded projects, and private clients, which include non-profits, small businesses and corporations. 

2 Convene a selection committee

After project funding and/or a site is identified, a selection committee is convened. Each project has its own distinct selection committee. All Percent-for-Art selection committees consist of at least 2 practicing visual artists, 2 neighborhood representatives, 1 architect, and a non-voting city engineer. Typically, our selection committees for grant-funded and private projects will include additional stakeholders.

The selection committee determines the scope of the project, reviews artist submissions, provides feedback to the selected artist and finalists, selects artists for projects, and approves all design, fabrication and installation benchmarks. UAC is a non-voting facilitator on all Percent-for-Art projects. Occasionally, a UAC staff member will serve on the selection committee for a private project.

All decisions made by Percent-for-Art selection committees must be approved by the City’s Public Art Oversite Committee (PAOC). The PAOC is a committee of seven members who have been appointed by the Mayor of the City of Memphis, the Chairman of the City of Memphis City Council, and UAC. The PAOC provides general oversight of the Percent-for-Art Program and issues that arise in conjunction with the program.

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Access minutes from previous PAOC meetings

3 Create artist calls

Artist calls contain relevant information about the site, budget, and scope of a project, as well as requested qualifications for interested artists. UAC releases calls both locally and nationally. There are typically two types of calls released by UAC: Request for Qualifications (RFQ) or Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFQ typically asks for artists to submit their resume, work samples, and state their interest in a project to the selection committee. Finalists from an RFQ are then invited to submit site specific concepts in response to an RFP.

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4 Review submissions & select artist

Using the criteria included in the call for artists, the selection committee reviews and selects finalists for a project. Typically, three to five finalists are selected. Finalists will be invited to submit a proposal for the project to present in front of the selection committee. Based on the finalist presentations and the strength of proposed concepts, a final artist or artist team is chosen for the project by the selection committee.

5 refine concept

UAC works with the selected artist, selection committee, residents, and various stakeholders to refine the project concept. Projects go through two formal design phases including producing detailed structural drawings and a detailed project budget, both of which require approval from the selection committee before an artist can begin the fabrication and installation of their project.

6 support & manage execution

UAC oversees the fabrication and installation of each project. This can include helping artists identify contractors, engineers, and other artists to help facilitate the completion of their project. This can also include coordinating between stakeholders to ensure clarity between all parties. Each project formally ends with a final approval from the selection committee and a dedication ceremony celebrating the completion of another public art work!

7 Celebrate!