Art for Social Change Public Art Residency Info Session Online

Grant Announcement Categories: Public Art Program

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Art for Social Change Public Art Residency Info Session Online

Applying for the Art for Social Change Public Art Residency? You can find more information and advice in this online and on-demand information session.

Calgary Arts Development is offering a five-month artist residency focused on the topic of social change. This opportunity is open to artists with a demonstrated history of working in public art and will tie into the Living a Creative Life Congress in November 2024.

This residency is intended to provide creatives working in public art the opportunity to explore new ways of addressing social change within the public realm. Opportunities may present themselves through new mediums, research, collaboration and community engagement.

During this residency, artists will have the opportunity to engage in discussions with local and international community partners whose work addresses social change. This will help further develop their artistic practice and build community.

Be sure to read the full guidelines and apply by 4:30pm MT on January 5, 2024.

Dawn van de Schoot: Welcome, everyone. This is the information session for the Art for Social Change Public Art Residency, and it’s also the first in what’s going to be an ongoing series of presentations called Public Art 101, which aims to support artists through professional development opportunities that will support their practice as public artists here in Calgary and hopefully worldwide. Before we begin, we want to acknowledge that the land that we gather on, Mohkinsstsis, is the ancestral territory of the Siksikaitsitapi, the Blackfoot people, comprising the Siksika, Kainai and Piikani Nations, as well as the Treaty Seven signatories, the Tsuut’ina Nation, and the Îyârhe Nakoda Bearspaw, Chiniki and Goodstoney First Nations. 

Today this land is home to the Métis of Region 3 and Districts 5 and 6 as well as many First Nations and Inuit from across Turtle Island. We acknowledge that there has been art, music, dance, storytelling and ceremony on this land since time immemorial and it is in the spirit of this land and its people that we do our work. 

My name is Dawn van de Schoot, I’m a project lead with the public art program, and I am the lead for the Public Art 101 program coming forward. So, I look forward to working with you all on that. I’m of colonial settler ancestry. My family were some of the early Ukrainian settlers in northern Alberta in Treaty Six and I grew up in Treaty Seven in Airdrie and then eventually in Calgary. As a result of my heritage and growing up without, really, connection to my ancestors or connection to a sense of place, it’s thanks to the work that I’ve done with many Elders that I’ve learned that it’s that lack of connection that has guided me forward in the work that I do. So, I’m deeply committed to public practice, to art practices, to connection through ideas and communities of interest rather than geography. And I’m so grateful that the Elders have given me a language for that, and I tell you that today, as one of the small ways that I incorporate truth and reconciliation into my life every day. I’m also here with my colleague, Tyler. 

Tyler Los-Jones: Hi everybody. My name is Tyler Los-Jones, I’m also a project lead with public art at Calgary Arts Development. I’ve lived in various parts of Treaty 7 for my entire life, really, and I feel this kind of overwhelming sense of gratitude for this land and the people who have stewarded it. I’ve been thinking a lot about this residency that we’re going to talk about today and the fact that the people who have lived here prior to settler arrival have certainly had to endure significant social change over these years. 

And so social change isn’t always a positive thing. And that’s something I’ve really had to kind of grapple with while imagining this residency. I think through that, you know, I’m taking that, the kind of responsibility that we have when we’re talking about social change to heart. And I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to support artists, the artists who will be participating in this program, to imagine, develop and kind of share stories of positive social change together with communities. 

So, thank you all for joining. 

Dawn van de Schoot: Thank you. I would also like to introduce Deb Russell, our ASL interpreter. If we pause while we’re speaking, I’ve learned today that that’s because Deb has to spell some of the words, and I need to give her a little more time. So, thank you for that and thank you for that teaching. There are many of our CADA colleagues here today as well, and so we will have some networking opportunities afterwards. I hope that you’ll stick around, continue to enjoy some snacks, ask us questions and meet our team.  

If you do need a washroom, the code is on the wall there and it’s kind of around the elevators, down the hallway on the other side. Please feel free to go at any time. If you have any other access needs, you can feel free to let us know or you can simply do what you need to make yourself comfortable. And that includes if you need to stand. I have terrible hips, sitting is awful for me for a long period of time. So, if you need to walk around, if you need to doodle, do whatever you need to do to make yourself comfortable. Please feel free at any time. 

Okay, so tonight we’re combining two things we’re providing, we’re providing an information session on the upcoming social change residency program, as well as relaunching the Public Art 101 program. This is simply a brief session that’s hopefully going to assist you in the development of a really strong application for this call and then for any other calls moving forward. We’re going to start with the information session, which Tyler will lead us through and then we’ll go into the Public Art 101 session afterwards. 

This is being recorded and will be available afterwards, you can watch it again, you can fast forward to the parts you’re more interested in, so just know that that’s available for you afterwards. Before we dive in, we want to share a little bit about Calgary Arts Development and its vision for the public art program as we move forward. 

Tyler Los-Jones: Thank you. Yeah, sure. So, we’ll start with some information about Calgary Arts Development and public art program. The overarching vision is a creative, connected Calgary through the arts, where everyone is empowered to live a creative life. Calgary Arts Development’s Mission is that the arts have the power to create vibrant communities and bring together diverse voices and perspectives. We support artists in the development of their skills and the expression of their creativity. 

Calgary Arts Development supports and strengthens the arts to benefit all Calgarians. As the city’s designated Arts Development Authority, CADA invests and allocates municipal funding for the arts provided by the City of Calgary and leverages these funds to provide additional resources to the arts sector. Our programs support hundreds of arts organizations, individual artists and artist collectives across Calgary. 

Dawn van de Schoot: Thank you. So many of you know CADA. It’s been around for a long time as your funding body, but as the Arts Development Authority, we’re also uniquely positioned to deliver and create the future public art program built upon our knowledge of and strong relationship with the arts community, something we invest in deeply. As of 2021, Calgary Arts Development engaged in a multi-year transition with the city to take over as the operator of the public art program we’re creating. Thank you, we are creating a public art program that’s engaging, relevant and accountable. This program has to reflect the diversity of the city, including connecting with Indigenous voices to tell the past, current and future stories of Calgary/Mohkinsstsis. Our intent is to foster these meaningful connections and dialog between artists and communities, utilizing the art in the public realm to reflect Calgary’s diverse stories and values. 

This is important as we move forward into this delivery of public art. So, what you’re going to see with CADA is that our goal is the commissioning of new artworks through open competition. You’re going to see more and more calls starting to come out, so stay tuned for all of that. We’re doing active public art programming, which included youth programs, artist development, like you’re here for tonight, and temporary exhibitions. 

And we’re also building awareness and awareness about public art, activating the collection and doing a lot of continued advocacy and support within our community. The City of Calgary still has one responsibility with public art, and that is maintaining the actual collection. So they do the collection conservation and maintenance as well as any activation of the collection itself. If you have questions about that, I’m happy to talk about that more and certainly approached me afterwards. 

Tyler Los-Jones: So Calgary Arts Development is committed to working with communities that have historically been underserved. We’re guided by the core principles of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility. We are committed to the process of eliminating institutional racism, ableism and barriers in our programs, policies and practices by centring the creativity and leadership of those communities most impacted by structural inequity. Our commitment outlines a vision for a city where Calgarians of all backgrounds can access, create and participate in art as part of their everyday lives. 

The four pillars of this vision are listed here: Equity, creating equitable access for Calgarians, who have had less opportunity for philanthropic or governmental support due to systemic barriers that exist in our community. Diversity, supporting artistic endeavours that reflect our diverse communities and in supporting the work of artists from diverse backgrounds. Inclusion, engaging a wide variety of voices and perspectives and shaping and furthering the work that we do. And accessibility, eliminating systemic barriers that prevent people who encounter physical, mental or cultural barriers to spaces, programs and services from participating in the arts. In order to honour lived experience and the intersectional and unique experiences of different people and communities, we follow a nothing about us without us policy. If you are creating work about a specific community, that community needs to be actively engaged and consulted and there needs to be clear, intentional and reciprocal relationship. 

Aligning with our commitment to EDIA, we strive to work with applicants in a kind of one size fits one way, so you can please reach out with any concerns about your how your project fits into our application process. There are things that we will certainly not tolerate, such as hate speech, cultural appropriation, active exclusionary behaviour. So that please be aware that these applications or projects that contain or any applications or projects that contain this will not be accepted or moved on in the selection process. 

Dawn van de Schoot: Accommodation and Accessibility. This is huge. If you’ve been working in this industry for any time, which I have, I can tell you that this is rare. And I’m very pleased to work for an organization that has so many opportunities for accommodation and accessibility. CADA really recognizes that there are barriers within the arts community and that’s particularly prevalent for equity deserving communities. 

In recognition of this, we work one on one with applicants who experience barriers to access and develop accommodations that suit their unique abilities and situations. So some examples of those might include the translation of written materials into other languages, including ASL, transcription of verbal meetings or audio and video recordings into a written document, language interpretations for meetings and grant writing assistance. 

So if you don’t know that, you can do that, you can actually have us pay for someone to support you in writing your grant application. Unheard of. Because we take this one size fits one model, if there is anything you need for support, approach us and we will help. That is what we’re here for, to nurture and support you in making your career stronger. And our hope for that is that then we can give you some of the tools necessary as you move forward in other places that might not quite be so accommodating. 

Tyler Los-Jones: So as Dawn mentioned, there are two policies available for anybody who may need support to apply for this program. There’s the Accommodation and Accessibility policy and the Application Assistance Policy. The links to both of these policies are in the guidelines under the Accessibilities tab for this residency. We can provide funds to support application assistance, for example, as we mentioned, hiring translators. 

We will work one on one with applicants who experience any barriers to access and help them develop accommodations that suit their unique abilities and situations. If you’re looking for assistance or have questions about eligibility, please reach out to us before applying. This is especially useful if you would like somebody to look at your application, provide any feedback or anything like that, it’s nice that we have a little bit of time to be able to do that before the deadline. You can reach out to the public art team at You can reach out to me directly and at the end of the presentation we’ll put our contact details back up on the screen as well. 

And again, just a kind of request for a little bit of time if you need feedback on your applications at all. Sometimes it can just take time to book a really excellent translator.  

Dawn van de Schoot: You’re still up. 

Tyler Los-Jones: I’m still up! 

Dawn van de Schoot: Over to you. 

Tyler Los-Jones: Okay, so this is nice. We get to start talking about the residency a little bit more. So I’m going to quickly go over the kind of art for social change, public art residency timeline, as you can see here. So the applications are currently open, they’re online and they’ll be accepted until January 5th in the new year at 4:30 MST. 

We encourage submitting your applications as early as possible. Again, especially if you would like feedback on those applications. And note that late applications will not be accepted. All applications will be reviewed and assessed in kind of January, February 2024, and notifications will go out via email mid-February 2024, letting applicants know if they were successful or not. The residency period itself can begin any time between March 15 and April 15. Regardless of when the residency begins, all residency activity has to be completed by November 1, so there’s a little bit of flexibility in terms of the kind of timeline that this activity will take place. We’ll ask that participants in the Art for Social Change Public Art Residency present on their studio practice or what they learned during the residency, and this will take place at the next Living and Creative Congress in 2024. And I’ll share that that presentation can take many forms. It could be a panel discussion with the participants in the program, it could be some other form of presentation that you develop over the course of the residency, but we would love to hear about your experiences at that next Living a Creative Life Congress. Thanks.  

Okay. So what is the Art for Social Change Public Art Residency? This residency is an opportunity for artists to consider how their practice can inform social change through the activation of public space, creation of a public artwork, or through research and conversation within communities. Artists are encouraged to consider projects that support and engage Calgarians and the social inequities facing those that we share space with. 

So the residency will be five months, full time, and again within that timeframe that was on the schedule before, you can kind of choose when to start that, but it will have to be finished before November 1. There will be six artists or artist teams who are chosen to participate in this residency program, and each artist or artist team will be paid $25,000 for that five month residency. 

So the residency is open to all professional artists residing here in Calgary/Mohkinsstsis, or if you’re from a surrounding community and you can demonstrate a clear connection to Calgary or Mohkinsstsis. It’s open to all artists with a demonstrated history of working in public art and artists must be available to meet virtually or in person at least once a month. I think there’s all sorts of really amazing opportunities to connect with the other cohort of residents. Also next to check in with me to kind of hear how the program is going and to kind of really discuss how we can support you in the work that you’re doing.  

The residency is an opportunity for artists to consider how their practice can inform social change through the activation of a public space, creation of a public artwork or through research and conversation within communities. And I’ll just share that we consider public art to be artists and communities working together to realize ideas in public space. It’s a lovely, very broad definition of public art, and I’m excited to see all the various practices of the artists who participate in this residency. Please refer to the program guidelines for the specific questions that you’ll be asked to respond to within the project proposal. And in a moment, I will go through the application portal and can kind of show you some of those highlights as well, but I also wanted to put up some just kind of key questions for you to consider as you’re thinking about this residency.  

So how can you creatively bring together groups with different ideologies and perspectives and work collaboratively on building a better future through the activation of public space? How can you address the challenges of equity, diversity, inclusion and accessibility in professional and personal spaces and advocate for transformational change that supports and welcomes all people? How can you engage with communities and corporate establishments through the planning and creation of an artwork while addressing decolonization, environmental concerns and healthy communities? And what are the current social and political challenges where you live? How could you address these challenges in a transformative way? I think these are really crucial, kind of exciting questions to think about terms of how you might be able to apply these to a five month residency. 

Dawn van de Schoot: So I’m stepping into this to talk about the selection process and our assessment committees. This is important for you to know. So we’re here, we guide you, we support you, we will meet all your access needs, but it is an independent selection panel that will assess the actual applications. They’re reviewed by a panel that’s made up of artistic peers, as well as community members and any other stakeholders who might be relevant to the project at any time. 

They’re chosen through public nominations as well as staff expertise, and we reserve the right as staff because we want to make sure that all of our panels have a broad cross-section of people on them as much as possible, so that you’re getting a whole variety of opinions on your application. So that might include, but not be limited to, people of different artistic disciplines gender, sexuality, age, religion, beliefs, nation physical and neurological identities etc. So we work very hard to curate those panels to make sure that we have that variety of feedback. 

The committees that we bring together are held to the CADA Group Agreements. So CADA has gone out of its way to create a series of agreements that all of our panels have to be trained in, as well as anti-bias training, so that they go in with as much open mind as possible and that they too are working with those CADA philosophies of being supportive and nurturing and trying to encourage people in as many ways as possible. 

Anyone, including all of you, can be a part of an assessment committee, so you can actually nominate yourself through the assessor nomination form online, or again, you could email us directly and we can include you on that list of potential assessors going forward. 

Tyler Los-Jones: So the selection panel will read and score applications again after the applications close between January and February, they’ll select project applications based on how their submissions respond to the application questions and they’ll be scored out of a possible 100 points. This is broken down in a really kind of a cute way within the guidelines again, but know that the letter of interest that you’ll be asked to submit is worth 70 points and the CV and your images, there’s a list of ten images that you can include, those will be worth 30 points. Okay. After scoring, the selection committee will discuss the applications, make final funding decisions in a meeting that will be facilitated by Calgary Arts Development staff, and then we’ll send out the results.  

So we thought it would be helpful is to look a little bit about at the application portal and just highlight a couple of things, if you’re actually going to apply for this residency, just talk through a bit of a test applicant here. So I’m going to leave our PowerPoint presentation and walk you through a few of these things.  

So if nobody, or if you haven’t applied for a grant or for a program at CADA before, you’ll have to register. And when you register, you can identify as an individual artist or as an artist collective. Again, everybody is welcome as individual artists or artist collectives to apply for this residency. And when you go and register, let’s say you’re an artist collective, you will have to identify one person within your collective who is going to be our main point of contact. And so that’s what we’re going to ask you to fill out here. This main point of contact is going to receive an email to continue their application process. So it’s really important that you trust whoever is in your collective who is starting this application. Let’s say that.  

You would fill out this information and hit submit, and then you’ll receive an email from Calgary Arts Development with a link to set of password and then bring you into the granting portal. I won’t walk you through that email receiving process right now, but we can go and look at a grant which is in progress and talk a little bit about the submission requirements. 

So when you’ve got your email from Calgary Arts Development, you’ve set up your password, you’re going to be brought to this online portal to apply for your program. You can see here, there’s one opportunity that’s listed as open that is the residency that we’re discussing today. And before you do anything, I really want you to start and make your profile. The information that you input into your profile is going to carry over and it’s going to kind of populate certain aspects of your application. So you want to make sure that your profile is as up to date as possible, and if you have applied for grants with Calgary Arts Development before, you may want to update certain aspects within your profile. 

If you’re applying as Artist Collective, you’re also going to have this organizational profile, which is talking a little bit more about some of the information within the collective. So know that if you’re applying as just an individual artist, not just an individual artist, if you’re applying as an individual artist, you’ll only have the My Profile, you won’t have the My Organization Profile, which we’ll just click on this quickly to take a look. 

So within the profile page you’re asked for some information, some identifying information about your practice, contact information, and you’ll be asked to upload your resume or your CV. This is a really important part about doing the profile in your application, because when you upload your resume here, this will import over into your next application. So if you’ve started a profile again maybe a few years ago, your old CV or old resume may still be on file, and you may have done really amazing things in the past couple of years that you would like to be reflected. So make sure that you really update your profile first. Okay?  

You can upload your CV here. You can upload any social media links. Those won’t be a part of the adjudication process, but it can be information that would be shared with our panelists.  

Once you’ve filled out all of this information, you can hit the Save My work and the Submit My Profile and then you start your application and all of this information will be carried through. Again, if you are submitting as an artist team, you’ll also need to go into My Organization Profile and this is an opportunity for you to upload things like your artistic practice statement for your kind of collaborative team, your artist team, and upload a CV for the entire team. We ask that it be one single PDF document with the different KPIs and resumes of different participants in your artist team, all in one document that you upload. 

Yes. Excellent. So once you have uploaded your profile and all of that information is current and up to date, then you can go to the Open Opportunities and start your application. If you’ve already started an application, which my test applicant has, you’ll see it show up here at the bottom. It says, My Applications, it’s open and it’s in draft, so let’s open that up and we can kind of take a look at the application in a little bit more detail. 

Our applicant who we’re looking at today is Alpine Meadows Public Art. And you can see here under the contact information that’s kind of underlined in red, again, this is a lot of information that will be carried over from that profile that we created. Okay. Beside the contact information and sometimes it can be hard to see within these applications as this Submission Requirements button, so click on that submission requirements and this is where you’re going to be asked about your letter of interest and this is where you’re going to be prompted to upload images. Okay. So within the letter of interest, there’s a number of questions that we think would be useful for you to respond to. I kind of shared some like broader, you know, dreaming questions, some like guiding principles when I was speaking earlier, but these questions are a bit more specific and are also really useful for you to reply, respond to within your application. So I’ll just read them out quickly. Nice to start with an easy one. Why does this opportunity appeal to you? How do your values and current practice contribute to this project? Please demonstrate your investment in social change through your artistic practice and/or your demonstrated interest in finding a way to incorporate social change into your current practice. What are the topics you’re interested in researching that could inform social change to the activation of public space, creation of a public artwork, or through research and conversation with communities? And to please share your knowledge and your connection to Calgary/Mohkinsstsis. You have 1500 words in this letter of interest to describe your project. And again, the letter of interest is going to be graded 70 out of those total 100 points. So this letter is a really crucial part for the panelists when they’re making their decisions for the participants in the residency.  

Next, there’s the image upload and you can upload ten still images. It’s quite a easy to use program, I think for uploading images, like as an artist myself, this is one of the smoother processes, so you can drag and drop files, there is a maximum of two gigabytes for all ten images, so you have lots of room to upload images there. But one crucial thing that I want to point out within this software is that once you upload your images, I’ve only uploaded two here, there’s this little kind of pencil, this properties button on the bottom left. Once you click on that, it will bring up information like the title of your work, the date of your work, the medium, as well as a brief description. 

So I’m thinking about those of you who may want to include video or animation or something like that. The brief description might be a great place for you to describe, like a video still, even though it’s not a video within the uploads here. So once you input all your information about that specific artwork, you can save that. And again, adding that information is really crucial in terms of the adjudication panel being able to learn about your work in detail. So you can upload ten images there. And at the bottom I’ll mention two, there’s a few buttons here, there’s the withdraw button that would bring you to withdraw your entire application. You can also save drafts as you’re going. 

So although the deadline for this residency is January 5, you can start putting images, you can start working on draft text in the application now and save that. Of course, you can also hit the submit button, which would bring you to a prompt that says, Do you really want to submit? You can say Yes if you’re ready. And there’s also the save and validate button, which is really useful. So for example, if I hadn’t put any information in my letter of interest, I click save and validate, I click save and validate. There you go. And you can see up here it says that this submission has failed because a letter of interest can’t be empty. So if you’ve forgotten to include an image or a description of an image or something like that, that save and validate button is so useful in just getting another set of eyes to make sure that you put all the information in the application. 

Dawn van de Schoot: So we’re switching to the Public Art 101 section of the evening. So if you aren’t familiar with this program, it’s something that we used to run at the City of Calgary’s public art program, where I worked for the last 17 years. I was full time staff for ten years there and then contract staff for seven. So we developed this program as an opportunity to teach studio practicing artists how to transition into public art for the unique needs that are required for public art, which there are many, and there are no training facilities that offer that particular skill set. So we’re going to try to fill that gap for you. I’m going to talk more about what we’re going to do for that program moving forward.  

Tonight we’re just doing a very general session to talk a little bit about how to strengthen your applications, hopefully because all of you are planning to apply for this call. Most of what we talk about could apply to any application. 

As you heard with a lot of that Q&A with Tyler, this is a very open application process that this particular call and sometimes that’s a little more challenging, sometimes very stringent parameters actually really direct you in how to apply. This one is very, very open ended. And so you’re going to have to work on kind of creating your own parameters for yourself that make it a little more clear because you are being assessed by a community of people who may not know you and who may not know art. 

So you need to be able to share your story very clearly with this panel in a way that makes it understandable. So I’m a writer, I like to simplify things. This is how you want to do it. You want to start by reading the call and the very, very specific parameters that they lay out within the call. You want to tell your story about what you want to do, and then you just want to back your story up with as much information as you can that supports the story you are telling. So let’s talk about how to do that.  

So read the call. I say this and it sounds like a joke, but you’d be amazed at how many people don’t read the call. We as staff work very, very hard to create calls for you that are as clear as possible, based on the objectives of an outline. It’s kind of our own little art practice. We want to make sure that we are supporting you in giving us what you need to give us so that we can give that to the panel who can accurately assess that. In that case, not every call applies to every person. Now this is not so that you self eliminate. It’s really important actually and I’m going to say this particularly for women, the stats on how many women will self eliminate from things is quite high. Do not self eliminate. However, do not try to fit a project that does not fit the call into that call. You need to actually apply with something that’s relevant to that call.  

Panelists use the criteria they are directed to use the criteria in the call for their scoring. So Tyler showed you there’s 70 points available in that letter that you’re going to write, the letter of interest, and they are addressing those specific points that Tyler walked through. The panel is given those specific points, and they will rate you on how well you respond to those points directly. You can be very overt about how you apply those points to your application. Cut and paste the same wording into your letter and actually show that direct line of how your proposal applies to that criteria so that the panel can see it, because the clearer you make it for them, the more likely they are to score you high.  

Technicalities are real, so when there’s only ten images aloud, you need the ten best images you can. If there’s only two megabytes, oh, gigabyte. So that’s high. I worked for the City that was, so if you try to upload things that are too big, then they won’t upload or they will get seen by the panel. So you have to make your story and the things that you upload fit within that so that you can actually make your application as strong as possible. This whole part of making sure that you update your profile before you go into the application, that is a technicality. If you do not update your profile with your most current information, your old information will get carried over from an old grant you wrote four years ago that might not be relevant to this. So please go in, do that update. It’s a technical system, it does it for us, we can’t change that for you. So follow this technicalities to support your work. 

And then of course ask for help when you need it. We as an organization provide that help for you, and that’s what we’re here for. Many of the organizations are not quite as accessible as we are, but they all have someone who is there to answer questions. It is a requirement, so make sure you reach out and ask the questions that you have and do it well in advance. I know we all like to procrastinate, I do too. But when you’re sending a question to a government body, 3 hours before the application’s due, you’re not going to get a response. It’s just not going to happen. So try to plan ahead.  

Tell your story. So stories need a beginning, a middle and an end. And a good idea is a clear idea. So it’s that whole 32nd elevator speech thing. You can write your idea on 83 pages, but in order for us to understand it, you need to edit that down and make it as concise as possible. So we need to know what the beginning is. Who are you? What’s your practice? How does it apply to this call? What do you want to do? Tell us. Fill us in with as much detail as possible without taking us off track, that’s how to make it concise, but also still clear. It is an art form. I know it’s hard, it’s like writing your own bio. Nobody is very good at writing their own bio, but when you read other people’s bios, you know good bio, right? So have other people read it. And we’re here for you to do that review for you in advance and we can actually provide some feedback and some advice if something’s unclear or you need a little direction some way.  

I do this, I’m notorious for this, and when I do applications, I assume that everybody already knows who I am. These panelists probably don’t. You have to assume that they don’t. So they need to know who you are and what you bring to this opportunity. So share your experience, share where you came from and why this is relevant to you. That’s the beginning, really. It all starts with you. So start there.  

You want to show equivalent experience. This is less relevant here, but I’m going to bring this in because it’s important. You are being scored on your CV and your images. Those are important, and in this call it’s very open, it can be for more emerging artists, it can be for more community-based people. It can be for people who are wanting to transition into public art. On most calls that you apply for, they will want to see that you have done a call of a similar size in the past that actually is a scoring criteria in most organizations. So you need to be able to show how your past work is somehow equivalent to the one you’re applying for. There are tricks as to how to do that, so maybe you’ve never received a large commission of $50,000 to do a public artwork before, but perhaps you’ve done a project before that was a large amount of volunteer donation in-kind time, and the equivalent of that would be $50,000. So it doesn’t have to be cash. It just needs to be a project of a similar size that you can show that you’ve done in the past. Does that makes sense. Yeah.  

So for this one, what you want to show is how you explore a topic or maybe how you would explore a topic if you had the time that you don’t normally have, and that’s going to be what we want to see in this one. Am I saying that? All right. Yeah, that’s great. Thank you.  

To propose an idea or not propose an idea. This is a fun one. It can be a catch 22. So for most public art calls, they hire you on qualifications, not on an idea. And that’s best practice in the public art industry. If you are hired on an idea, it means that you’ve already done work and that you haven’t been paid for. And so generally we want to say that you should not be doing work for a project until you’ve actually been hired to do it, right. That makes sense. However, if you have less experience and so your experience credentials might score lower, proposing an idea, if it’s a really good one that catches the panel’s attention, could bump you to the top of a scoring because of the strength of that idea. And so sometimes, and particularly in a call like this, that’s a little bit more open, coming with a clear idea of what you’d like to do will help people catch on more to what you’re trying to share. 

The trick with that is that you have to make sure your idea is not off track. So in this case, there’s no possibility of that. There is no off track, it’s completely open. However, if you do apply for other calls and you apply with an idea and you haven’t had that opportunity to do research and background, kind of intel, your might be slightly off base and it could end up eliminating you because the idea didn’t connect with the panel in that way. 

So you have to be careful with when you an idea and when you don’t. I’d suggest in this call that if you have an idea that you want to work with, go with it. If you don’t, go with it, it’s that open. And if you want to talk more, or if you need advice in other calls on how you should move forward with that, again, please reach out because we can look at the call and kind of understand a little bit more about whether that be a trip-up or not for you. 

I talked about distilling the idea and being concise, concise, and that’s kind of connected to this idea of not confusing your story with side stories. It happens a lot. We all get off track. Really easy to do. You know, you’re having a conversation with your friend. You started a conversation. You end up going where the where is it going with this? It happens in writing all the time. So you want to make sure that when you’re writing your application that you stick to the idea that you’re sharing for this application. If you bring any other information in, it should only be to support what you’re telling to this panel for this application. Again, make sure you address all the needs in your call. So pull them out, make it specific. Draw that connective line for your panel.  

Source materials. So we know you’ve told your story. So you’ve submitted your CV, you’ve done your profile, you’ve told your story about your idea or what you want to explore, then you need to add your source materials, which is usually what the panel is looking at to rate you, in this case, it’ll be on there the final 30 points. A lot of people self eliminate at this point because they feel that they don’t have enough experience or that their images aren’t strong enough. So I want to again encourage you not to self eliminate, to ask for support and we can guide. You want to use the strongest source material that you have to support the application that you are providing. So a lot of artists will choose just their strongest source material, but it might not be relevant to this application. You only have ten slides, make sure they are applicable to what you are saying for this particular project. So if you’re applying and you’re saying, Yeah, this is a bus shelter and the call is to do glasswork and you’ve done a lot of bronze work and you submit a whole bunch of bronze statues, you’re going to get eliminated, right? Sounds logical? I see you laugh. I get it. But you’d be amazed because people want to show off their strongest work, but it’s not connected to the call, so make sure that you connect it to what you’re doing. Your CV is the same. You’d be amazed how many people will provide a CV that’s not connected or pulling out the information that’s relevant to what they’re saying they want to do in this application. You can actually streamline your CV, you don’t have to include the same one on every application, so make sure you actually draw that information to the panel’s forefront so that they can see what you bring to this. And if it’s not specifically public art related, then what is it that connects to this call? So is it community engagement? Is it working with people? Is it working with artists? Are you a really excellent facilitator? You can pull in lots of other information, but that’s still supportive to this call, and that goes for those financial pieces as well, when you want to show how a past project is of an equal scale to the project you’re applying for, maybe you used to run an organization that used to manage a budget, you can show you’ve managed budgets that way. This this is all information that we can take into account. So again, make sure you make it relevant to what you’re saying.  

Tyler showed you that beautiful thing that CADA has with so little pencil mark on your images where you can actually fill in all the information. I can’t tell you how many applications I’ve seen where the images get submitted with absolutely no information about what they are or why they’re relevant to the call. Please include as much information as you can in that little edit piece because it helps tell that story. It’s extra words that you don’t have in your letter, but it will share what you’re doing. Show how that image is relevant to what you’re saying. Include process images. This is a social justice call, we are literally looking for people who work in community. Do you have wonderful shots of you working with other people? Include those images, explain what you were doing and why it’s there. These are important parts of the practice.  

Be careful with collaborations. Again, this happens a lot. A lot of artists, particularly in this type of practice, work with other artists to collaborate and make things happen. When you are applying on your own and you include an image from a collaboration, it really trips up assessors because they don’t understand which part you did and which part other people did. And they have a really hard time pulling out which part you bring to this as an individual. So you can clarify that in that little editing piece – this is a collaboration I did with so-and-so, and this was my part in this, and this is why I’ve included this image, it’s relevant to this call because. So make sure you again pull it out and clarify it if you’re going to use a collaborative image.  

Collaborations also can be tricky because often it takes you out of a discipline. Maybe it’s a you know, it stretched you. You did a discipline that you’ve never done before because you were collaborating with somebody else. That’s great. Then explain that and use that to justify maybe why you want this opportunity to explore more so that you can do more work like that. So again, all of these images can be used, but tell the story of why they’re relevant.  

All of your supporting documentation is important, and like we talked about earlier, even though it’s not directly being evaluated in this call, it is present on your profile page. Again, most organizations that is not possible, for CADA it is. So I’m going to say go ahead and use that. Make sure you’ve got your website on there. Use your social media on there. Panelists are dedicated to making sure they understand, they review all things. So even though we cannot direct them to review that stuff, you would be amazed how many go out and look you up and go deeper into your practice. So make sure it’s all there and it’s available. 

When I worked at the City, they were absolutely not allowed to look at any information that you did not apply with. So be aware of that as well, that if you are applying for other organizations, that possibility might not be there for you. It is here, so make sure you use it. And that means that on your websites or your social media or any of those places, when you’re applying for something that is a process-based exploration, you want to show your processes. So make sure you have those videos, behind the scenes type of information, any type of background kind of embedded into your social and your websites that’s going to help people understand what you do a little bit better, because normally we kind of score art based on this outcome. Let’s talk a little bit more in your practice about your journey. 

Social media, again. Do you ever not look anybody else, any of you think about it? I mean, you would look everybody up, right? So make sure that your social media reflects your practice and what you’re doing, and that’s your website as well. Update your website. I don’t do it. I never do, websites, a landing page. Make sure you update your website. People go to it almost immediately and it truly is. It’s kind of a catchall for everything you do so that it can go out again.  

So these are just general practices that you should have if you’re going to be submitting applications, keep these up because it’s important. It’ll make you more successful. 

Okay. I’m going to give you some examples of projects I’ve worked on and how they told the story of what they were doing. And these are relevant to social practice. Okay. So this is a project that I think a lot about, this is an artist collective called Incipio Modo. They’ve done a variety of projects throughout the city, including some large-scale bronze installations. 

So I’m going to show you a project that is in process as an example of how to tell your story. And this is one of those to propose or not to propose questions, it’s a good example of that. So generally, when you apply for a grant or in my experience, I’m talking more specifically about when you’re applying for a commission or a call, you are not applying with a proposal. If you are applying with a proposal, it’s an idea only and not an actual concept. However, because you are applying to a panel that maybe can’t quite conceptualize what you’re proposing when it’s just in words, visuals help immensely for people to understand what it is you’re proposing. And so if you can do a little bit of upfront clarification of what it is you are suggesting, it does help immensely in better understanding. 

So this particular project, The Procession, was a very personal project to this artist team. It came from Edward’s family member being killed through systemic violence in Mexico. And so over COVID, they started working on some little, small scale sculptures as his own opportunity to mourn and address this death of his brother. And because they actually had some of this work, why am I not finding it now? There we go. So they started with simple wire, just little tiny pieces that would reflect what, kind of a maquettes, of what the actual final imagery would be. But because they were able to play with some of this imagery in a very simple way, they were able to share what this would look like as they move forward. They invested simply in some great photography, a little bit of wire work, and then as they’ve gone on, they managed to get funding right away because they had that quite clear, and so they’ve worked on it a little bit over time, and they’ve been able to do reports about what’s happening, they do a lot of behind the scenes practice so you can see what their experiment in with as far as materiality, and they’ve invested in, so again, these are these process shots, we don’t need to see what the idea is, we just need to see that there’s an exploration happening, that there’s something going on that’s leading to something. And this is quite relevant for you for this call, right? Let us see what you’re working on. Everybody loves a studio visit. Give us a little behind the magic and tell us what’s happening. They went on, then after a bit of funding, to do a couple of test samples of bigger ones. So again, invest in a very simple mockup, a little bit bigger imagery, again, some more behind the scenes. So a lot of it is simply clarifying the idea that they are plying with in a very visual way. So making sure that that idea is clear and your story about what you’re applying with is clear. So that’s what I wanted to pull out about that one, that’s Incipio Modo. And that’s kind of a pre application idea of how you could possibly clarify your story.  

This is a project that’s already completed, so this might be something that you would include in your application, about a past story that you’ve done, a past project that you’ve done. But again, when you’re talking about, parties ramping up back there, when you’re talking about a project that’s complete, a lot of people focus on just the completed artwork. And in a in a process like this, what we need to know is how you got there. What was the journey to getting to that final artwork? So this particular project, really, it’s a series of small signs that have been embedded in the community. So we could just see those signs in your application, but it wouldn’t tell you anything about what happened. So what we need to know is how you got there. So what they’ve done really well in this project is they’ve included a lot of behind the scenes imagery about some of the process work that they did. They’ve connected to the background on the website. There’s a video which we won’t go through today, but you can certainly look up that’s available in the website that shows you all of the different pieces of their journey. It’s very personable, it’s very behind the scenes, there’s babies running around, it’s got a very community feel to it. It explains in the story all the elements of why they got to those signs. And then, only then, do you get to the actual imagery that was used on the signs itself and how it got there. So it’s a full explanation from beginning to end of this very simple journey of exploring plans with people and then putting plans on signs. But it’s much more beautiful than just having an image of the sign in sharing that story. Yeah. Yeah. 

Participant: I was just wondering, is this is an example of a final report or are they showing a project they’ve done or to apply for another project?  

Dawn van de Schoot: I mean, this is the website for the project. Yes. So, you know, you could, in some calls, you can actually include a website link which would allow you to share that story, I’m simply using it as an example. It’s a project that I worked on, I’m using it as example for you and how to tell a story, right? 

Yeah. Okay. Any other questions? All right, one more. So I’m going to show you two different websites on this one. So my purpose of this is to show you how a story can be told in different ways. This is the same project. This is the skateboard public art project. It was done by the City of Calgary, one of the capital infrastructure projects, and Eric and Mia, who some of you might know, did a social practice project as a part of the skateboard park projects. It was not a permanent artwork. It was a series of smaller interventions within the community. So this is the city’s so this shows you how much it cost, who they were, and it kind of tells you what they did. There’s the zine, there is the school, and here’s a little bit about them. That’s the city’s version. Here’s Eric and Mia’s version. So they tell the story. They give you a little bit about the background, why they got this contract, they have some process images, they show you their zine, there’s a little close up so that you can actually look at all the imagery and it’s even an image of a scene that you can’t see is a beautiful image. So the image of the image is great. So you can tell that there’s a legacy of care in how they’ve shared their journey of this exact same project, which shows all the little pieces of how they got to what they were doing. And this was a social intervention project, there was no artistic outcome other than the record of the project. 

So again, record your project, show us the process of how you got there, but take care with how you share that process. Make that beautiful too, because that is the journey that we’re looking for here. Okay, now I’m in the website and I don’t know how to get out. 

Thank you Tyler. That’s Mia and Eric. Yeah, they have a beautiful website. So do take a look, they’re a great example of how to share these kind of social justice practice projects really well.  

Okay. So that’s again, very general overview on how to strengthen your public art application, and I hope that was helpful. I’m here if you have questions and I’m happy to help. 

I wanted to take an opportunity before we released this to conversation to talk about some of the upcoming Public Art 101 sessions and what we’re planning with Public Art 101 and I tell you this because I want to hear from you about what you need to learn as public artists in Calgary and how we can help you do better. 

So the first thing we’re going to do, we have three dates planned there will be six sessions starting in the new year. First one January 24 is going to be just the five use of public art, that’s going to be our opportunity to introduce the new public art team at CADA to all of you and talk a little bit about what we’re planning and what we’re doing going forward. So that will be exciting, it will also announce some of the upcoming calls and some of the things that are going moving forward. February 21 we’re going to look at building a public art project from start to finish, and that can be, as an artist, important all the steps that you want to take in order to build your project. It’s also relevant for, say, community members or organizers who might want to build a project and try to get it funded. So we’re going to talk about all the various steps required along the way using a very simplified process as well. And then March 13th, budgeting for public art, always the single most popular presentation we ever do. But public art has a very unique set of ways of budgeting. So we’ll go through that and you can again, it’s relevant to artists or communities or organizers who might want to learn more about how best to plan with the money side of your public art practice.  

So that’s coming up as a part of what we’re planning for Public Art 101, we want to offer an opportunity for what we’re calling the Artist Cohort, which would be a group of emerging public artists who would apply and be selected to work with us on a more advanced level, learning a more detailed understanding of how to work in public art, specifically getting into larger scale installations, fabrication, and some of the engineering and construction requirements. So a lot of the more detailed elements in public art. We will release the call for this in the spring. The cohort will work with us for a year and will develop a project plan alongside us and with mentor artists throughout. So it’s exciting. It’s coming up in the New Year, so stay tuned and make sure you connect with us so that you know when that releases.  

Oh, feedback survey. So you all signed up. Thank you very much. Now we know who you are. We’re going to send you a little link after with a couple of questions. It’s not very complicated. We just need to know what we did well and what we can improve on. And then we’d also like to hear from you any other topics that you would like us to explore in Public Art 101, this is here for you.  

Participant: Like a bio session where we critique each others’ bios, because bios are hard.  

Dawn van de Schoot: Bios are hard! I like it! Oh, okay. I was referred by her.  

Tyler Los-Joes: Great idea. 

Dawn van de Schoot: Okay, I got a note. Thank you…. can you put it in me a feedback form too that I’m sending? Yes, that would be great. I’m really, really big on collecting feedback, so please make sure you come talk to me. I can’t get better unless you tell me what you need. So please, please help me along the way. 

Again, this is us, Tyler. Me. We’re around. Deb has to leave, though. Thank you for joining us today. Please stick around for some snacks, questions, conversation and look for our next session in January. Thank you for being here. 

Tyler Los-Jones: Thanks, everyone. 

If you have any questions or need help completing an application, please contact the public art team at

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