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Request for proposals from Canadian Curators

The City of Calgary is seeking a Canadian curator or curatorial team to undertake a curatorial review of the City of Calgary’s Public Art Collection. The selected contractor will review the strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection and provide recommendations on the preparation of a long-term Collection Development Plan which provides a framework for specific tactical plans to address gaps in the collection.

Budget: Anticipated budget is $70K plus gst. Please include a proposed fee with submission materials.
Deadline: 4:30 pm MST on Monday, December 17, 2018
Schedule: December 2018 - June 2019

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Calgary, Alberta
Located in the rolling foothills of southern Alberta, Calgary boasts one of the most striking settings of all Canadian prairie cities. Calgarians live where the high plains rise into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, on a site deeply carved, both geographically and historically, by the Bow and Elbow rivers. The confluence of these rivers is the original settlement by the Blackfoot people prior to newcomers. Calgary was established on these lands in the heart of Treaty Seven and contains historical sites that are part of our local narrative.

The city is evolving at a rapid pace, and with an influx of young professionals and cultural enthusiasts, it is recognized not only for what it already is, but for what it is becoming. Calgarians, on average, are among the youngest and most highly educated in Canada. Cultural diversity is a significant part of our identity, with people moving to Calgary from all parts of the world. More than 120 languages are spoken here. This representation of different traditions, ideas, and cultures creates a diverse and varied energy that contributes to this thriving city.

We are at the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver, and cover a land area of 825 km2 (318 mi2) making it Canada's third largest municipality. Calgary is lush with parks and expansive green spaces, and provides its citizens with the most extensive urban pathway network in North America. In 2012, Economist Magazine identified Calgary as the fifth most liveable city in the world, taking into account such factors as safety, education, culture, environment, and recreation.

Named Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012, Calgary is continually proving itself to be a cultural force within Canada and beyond. Our galleries and museums offer a varied and fascinating mix of history, art and culture, as does our year-round roster of events including the Calgary International Film Festival, Nuit Blanche, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, GlobalFest and the most well known - the Calgary Stampede.

Calgary is also a city that has embraced the full potential of public art. The Public Art Policy and Program has been in existence since 2004, and is currently one (1) of the most prolific programs in Canada, if not North America. The city enjoys public artworks in every one (1) of its fourteen (14) wards, including such internationally acclaimed artists as Jaume Plensa, Dennis Oppenheim and Beverly Pepper. As a Program, the vision is founded on the principle that public art can engage and change a city, foster strong communities and speak to the soul of the individual. Public Art is committed to fostering a visual presence that is bold, provocative and reflective of Calgary’s dynamic and enterprising spirit.

For more information on Calgary, visit or For more on the Public Art Program, visit

The City of Calgary Public Art Program
The Public Art Policy was established in January 2004. The Public Art Program ensures the allocation of one percent (1%) of all eligible capital upgrade, growth projects and service over one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) to public art. The percentage for Public Art allocation is calculated on portions of the eligible project capital costs over $1 million using a sliding scale with two break points: 1% for the portion up to $50 million; and 0.5% for the portion over $50 million. The allocation from each capital project will be capped at $4 million. Eligible capital projects include all upgrade (U), growth (G), and service (S) budget items over $1 million. Ineligible costs include land purchase, rolling stock, portable equipment (furniture, computers, etc.), and maintenance (M) budgets.

Scope of public art opportunities, as outlined in the policy, includes discrete, semi-integrated, integrated and temporary works, and allows for artists on design teams, community based public art and special projects such as artist residencies. For further information regarding the Public Art Policy see

What’s in the Collection
The City of Calgary has an art collection of over 1,300 works, including a fine art collection (photographs, paintings, sculpture, glass, installations, ceramic, textiles) that is rotated throughout public spaces, outdoor sculptures sited in parks and plazas, installations integrated into infrastructure, monuments, memorials, environmental art, temporary projects, street art and functional objects.

Where you can see the Collection

  • The City of Calgary’s Public Art Collection can be viewed in every ward across the city.
  • Public art has been installed throughout the city for a hundred years. Some of these pieces include the Centre Street Bridge lions, the Boer War Memorial in Central Memorial Park and the Brotherhood of Mankind downtown.
  • New public art commissions have been incorporated into infrastructure such as LRT stations, recreation facilities, parks and fire halls.
  • Photographs, paintings, textiles and sculptures are rotated throughout City spaces and public areas such as parks, plazas, recreational facilities, public buildings and Plus-15s.
  • We lend to public institutions like Bow Valley College, Mount Royal University, libraries across the city, Calgary Foundation. We also lend to galleries like the Glenbow Museum, The Nickle Arts Museum, the Whyte Museum, the Art Gallery of Alberta, etc.

History of the Collection
Before there was’ percent for art’ funding strategy and a Public Art Collection, there was the Civic Art Collection which was managed by the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation. The Collection was built by the generosity of individuals, businesses and charitable organizations and began growing with donations made as early as 1911. In 1946, the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation (CAAF), then the Calgary Allied Arts Council, was appointed trustee and steward of the Civic Art Collection. The Collection was supported by the passion and strong belief of a few early artists that the City should acquire artworks of artistic and historical interest for the community. With funds from the bequests of Henry Bruce Hill, Wesley Fraser Irwin, Marion and Jim Nicoll, and Doug Motter, CAAF augmented the Collection through purchases, donations and commissions.

People like Eric Harvie and his philanthropic organization, the Devonian Group also gave and loaned to the City numerous artworks for places such as the old planetarium, the Devonian Gardens and Century Gardens, as well as civic partners such as the Zoo and Heritage Park. The Collection includes regional, national and international artists but the core was built by the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation with the vision of an art collection by significant visual artists in the Calgary region.

These objects from the previous Civic Art Collection, currently comprise the bulk of the holdings of the Public Art Collection, representing roughly 80% of the collection. The City of Calgary assumed custodial responsibility for the collection in 1982, with the CAAF retained as an advisory committee on the development, maintenance, and promotion of the collection until 2004.

The City of Calgary’s award winning Public Art Program began in 2004 when City Council adopted the Public Art Policy and established a vision for an innovative program. The Public Art Program assumed full responsibility for the administration and management of the Collection, and the Public Art Board was appointed as the new advisory committee to City Council on matters relating to public art. It is the largest Public Art Program in Canada and has become recognized as a leader in the field of public art, attracting local, national and international artists. The Program has commissioned artists such as Beverly Pepper (NYC), Inges Idee (Berlin), Sans Façon (Glasgow), Lorna Jordan (Seattle), Caitlind r.c Brown and Wayne Garrett (Calgary), Tony Stallard (Essex) and Brian Tolle (NYC), to name a few.

In addition to artworks commissioned through the Percent for Art policy, the City of Calgary offersmany opportunities to artists for temporary public art, non object-based commissions, mentorships and community-based initiatives and programs.

In 2010, the Public Art Program organized its first temporary public art project, Celebration of the Bow River. This six-part initiative invited artists to examine our connection to the Bow River. The results yielded compelling, ephemeral, performative and symbolic gestures that highlighted the complexity of the river as a life-sustaining resource. Ten thousand Calgarians lined the riverbanks for the installation, River of Light by the London-based studio Creatmosphere. River of Light featured 500 illuminated spheres launched down the Bow River shortly after dusk - connecting Calgarians both physically and symbolically to the river. This project was recognized as one of the top 50 Public Art Projects in North America for 2010 by the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network.


The City of Calgary seeks a curator or curatorial team undertake a curatorial review of the current artwork holdings in the Public Art Collection and provide recommendations on the preparation of a long-term Collection Development Plan which provides a framework for specific tactical plans to address gaps in the collection.

The Collection Plan is a strategy to clearly articulate collecting priorities for the future growth of the Public Art Collection. This document will enable the City to make consistent and well-informed decisions related to new acquisitions, projects and programs that will enhance the collection.

As part of this work, a survey of the collection is required to review the strengths and weaknesses of the existing collection and identify gaps and opportunities. The curatorial review will provide an understanding of the cultural value of the Collection, as well as place it within the larger continuum of Canadian art history and the field of public art. Public art is a rich and varied practice that explores a deeper understanding of place, history, collective memory and the politics of public space. Artworks range from the temporary to permanent and their manifestations include art in public places, site specific works as well as public interventions.

The completed assessment will provide an objective analysis of the quality, depth and significance of the works in the collection and provide a framework for future direction.

The selected curator or team will conduct a comprehensive curatorial survey of the City of Calgary Public Art Collection and draft a summary report of survey findings and analyses. The survey and report will provide insight into the artistic, cultural and social value of the individual artworks as well as the entire collection.

The successful candidate will:
a. In consultation with Public Art staff, develop a curatorial assessment process, approach and methodology.
b. Define terms used in the curatorial assessment.
c. Execute a curatorial assessment survey of the entire Public Art Collection based on the criteria developed above.
d. Draft a summary report of the survey findings identifying the strengths, weaknesses and gaps in the Collection.
e. Develop recommendations for opportunities to diversify and enhance the Collection.

This project is to be completed by June 2019.

Submission Requirements

Any submission not received by the closing date and time will not be considered.

Submissions must contain:

a) A current CV with contact information;
b) Letter of interest detailing your experience with mixed public art collections and curatorial expertise that is representative of all relevant disciplines;
c) Applicable examples of your work in related areas;
d) Provide three (3) current references. References should include company name, current contact name including current telephone number, address and e-mail address.

The City reserves the right to contact references without prior notification. References from City of Calgary staff members will not be counted as part of the required references.

Submission Process

Submissions can be sent via email or hard copy.

Digital submissions should be in Word or PDF format and emailed to with Public Art Curator RFP in the subject line. Complete submission package must be smaller than 10MB.

Hard copy submissions can be delivered to:

Holy Angels Civic Building - RECEPTION
Attn: Public Art Curator RFP
2105 Cliff Street SW
Calgary, Alberta, T2S 2G4

Or mailed to:

Box 2100, Station M, #63, Calgary, AB Canada T2P 2M5

Evaluation Matrix

The conservator will be selected based on qualifications, references and interviews. Submissions will be evaluated as per the table below:


​Evaluation Criteria ​Weight ​Rating ​Score
​Letter of Interest ​25
​Qualifications ​20
​Demonstrate Excellence of Past Work in Related Areas ​30
​Ability to Meet Project Goals and Objectives ​25

Proposals will be evaluated and ranked according to the outline below. The evaluation will be based on a 0 to 10 scale.


​Rating ​Description
​10 ​Exceeds expectations; Proponent clearly understands the requirement, excellent probability of success.
​8 ​Somewhat exceeds expectations; high probability of success
​6 ​Meets expectations; Proponent has good understanding of requirement, good probability of success.
​4 ​Somewhat meets expectations; minor weakness or deficiencies, fair probability of success.
​2 ​Does not meet expectations or demonstrate understanding of the requirements, low probability of success.
​0 ​Lack of response or complete misunderstanding of the requirements, no probability of success.

Working with The City

Private Individuals
To comply with Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) requirements, regarding employee/employer concerns and issues, this is to advise that it is a policy of The City not to enter into contracts with individuals. To be considered for this project, you must already operate under a business name, or be willing to establish a business name.

The Contractor hereby agrees to put in effect and maintain insurance for the Term, at their own expense, in a form that is satisfactory to The City and with insurers allowed by the laws of the Province of Alberta to issue insurance policies in Alberta, the following insurance policies:

  1. A commercial general liability insurance policy for bodily injury (including death) andproperty damage in an amount of not less than five million dollars ($5,000,000.00) inclusive limit for any one occurrence and such policy must include:
    1. The City as an additional insured;
    2. a cross liability clause;
    3. contractual liability coverage; and
    4. a non-owned automobile liability clause;
  2. If the Contractor is providing professional services, a professional liability insurance policy for damages arising out of errors, omissions, or negligent acts by or on behalf of the Contractor in providing professional services under this Agreement, such insurance policy to be in an amount of not less than FIVE MILLION DOLLARS ($5,000,000.00) for any one claim, and in the annual aggregate, or such other amount as agreed to by The City and the Contractor and confirmed in writing, and such insurance must remain in operation for at least twelve (12) months after termination of the Agreement; and
  3. A provision for The City to be given thirty (30) days written notice prior to cancellation, andthirty (30) days prior notice of any material change requested by the Supplier of theinsurance policies.

The Contractor will be responsible for all deductibles that may apply in any of the required insurance policies.

The Contractor covenants and agrees that The City's insurance requirements will not be construed to and will not, in any manner, limit or restrict the liability of the Contractor.

Proponent Performance
The successful contractor may be evaluated throughout the course of the project. Any evaluation will be shared with the contractor, with the goal of immediate and permanent resolution to problems and concerns. The City reserves the right to terminate the contract if it is deemed that mutually agreeable remedies cannot be reached.

Cancellation and The City’s Right to Terminate a Contract
The City may, at any time during the term of a contract, upon giving 30 days’ notice to the successful proponent, terminate a contract if The City is of the opinion that the services supplied by the proponent are not of a standard satisfactory to The City or that the proponent no longer has the financial capability to perform obligations under the contract. Further, The City in its sole discretion may terminate the agreement for reasons including but not limited to unethical or criminal activities immediately upon written notice.

A security clearance will be conducted.
Successful applicants must provide proof of qualifications.

Questions and Clarifications

All requests for clarification and questions regarding this call must be submitted in writing only via email to All clarification and questions must be received no later than 72 hours prior to the submission deadline. Although every attempt will be made, The City cannot guarantee that questions received beyond this time period will be answered prior to the submission deadline.