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CALL TO ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS – Request for Qualifications (RFQ) Public Art Installation in Salem, Massachusetts, Summer 2016

Friday, December 18, 2015 10:30 AM | James Bostick (Administrator)

 CALL TO ARTISTS AND DESIGNERS – Request for Qualifications (RFQ) 

Public Art Installation in Salem, Massachusetts, Summer 2016 

$7,000 budget 

Submission Deadline: February 12, 2016 

The City of Salem seeks qualifications from artists and designers interested in creating a site-responsive public art installation in the heart of downtown Salem during the summer/fall of 2016. The public art project will be a prominent feature in the kick-off of the Salem Main Streets, Salem Arts Festival, an annual three-day celebration of all the arts that will begin June 4, 2016. Artists and designers working in any media, including light, are encouraged to submit qualifications. The City is particularly interested in installations that have an impact when viewed across the site and that are effective at night as well as during the day. 

Salem is a growing, culturally diverse city with a rich literary, architectural, maritime, and immigrant history, including its role in the 17th century Salem Witch Trials. In the 19th century, it was one of the most important seaports in the country. Today it is lively destination that draws people from around the world. 

The site for the public art project is the area surrounding Old Town Hall from Essex Street on the north side to New Derby Street on the south side. It includes a section of the Essex Street pedestrian mall, all of Derby Square, and Artists’ Row. Except for Front Street at the lower end, the site is a pedestrian-only zone. Retail shops, restaurants, businesses, and residences are located throughout the area. The architecture includes historic colonial buildings as well as newer structures. In addition, various landscape and hardscape features could be integrated with the public art project, such as bollards, steps, lamp posts, brickwork, and trees. Notable topography from the bottom of the plaza at Front Street to the top of the hill at Essex Street creates a dramatic space around Old Town Hall. 


The City of Salem public art project is an opportunity to create a unique experience for the thousands of visitors and residents who enjoy downtown Salem in the summer and fall. In addition to the Salem Arts Festival, several other events, as well as a weekly farmers’ market on Derby Square Plaza, mark the season and draw crowds to the City. 

From this RFQ, three to five finalists will be invited to submit concept proposals. Each finalist or finalist team will be paid a $150 stipend for proposals. One proposal will be selected for installation. The selection committee is particularly interested in artists or designers who show promise of creating a project that: 

  • Unifies the series of public spaces within the overall site 
  • Is durable and easily maintainable for four months in exterior conditions 
  • Responds to the physical, historical, and/or social attributes of the site 
  • Reflects high level of quality in design and fabrication 
  • Offers the potential for community interaction 


The budget for the Salem Arts Festival public art project is $7,000.00, which must cover all costs. 


Timeline: 

  • February 12, 2016 All electronic submissions due 
  • March 4, 2016 Finalists selected 
  • Late March 2016 Finalists present concept proposals in person 
  • April 1, 2016 Final selection announced 
  • April-May 2016 Final development of project 
  • End of May 2015 Installation 


Please submit the following: 

  • Resume/Bio with contact information and website (if applicable) 
  • Statement of Interest (50 words or less) 
  • Example of work: 
  •  Title 
  •  Location 
  •  Ten Jpeg images of completed work 
  •  Material/Medium 
  •  Dimensions 
  •  Brief Description of the project 


How to Submit: 

Submissions should be emailed to Deborah Greel, Public Art Planner, City of Salem, dgreel@salem.com. If you do not receive a confirmation email within 24 hours, please re-send or call Deborah at 978-619-5681. 

For more information, please contact Deborah Greel: dgreel@salem.com 

Visit www.salemartsfestival.com for more information about the Salem Arts Festival. 

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