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Propose an artist-driven public art project

The Boston Art Commission accepts proposals for artist-driven and community-driven public art projects. Below are the different pathways for proposing an artist-driven project.

Last updated:
Step
1

Before you get started on a temporary project

The Boston Art Commission works under the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture to integrate public art into the City. The Art Commission advises and supports artists, communities, City departments, and others. It commissions, approves, and conserves the City of Boston's public art collection.

PLEASE NOTE:
  • Temporary public art is considered less than 18 months.
  • Artwork is only commissioned through public requests for proposals. The City of Boston also accepts proposals for permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary public art. These can be public art interventions, installations, or memorials on City-owned property.

All proposals must be presented to the Boston Art Commission. The commission meets on the second Tuesday of every month (subject to change). The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture works with the commission to help facilitate this process.

Step
2

Find funding

We have helpful information for finding funding online. You can also apply for the City of Boston's Opportunity Fund.

Step
3

Find a site

Work with community stakeholders and neighbors to identify the site for your project. Consider reaching out to:

  • the Boston Art Commission at bac@boston.gov
  • art foundations and local businesses
  • nonprofits, and 
  • anyone with a stake in the project.

You can research property ownership on the City's website. Certain locations might also need approval by the Parks Department or the Landmarks Commission, or both. We can help you research these requirements. There's a map of landmarked locations, and a list of City of Boston parks.

Step
4

Finalize details

Finalize your budget, location, and any insurance and permitting requirements. 

Step
5

Submit application

Submit your Public Art and Design application to Boston Art Commission staff. All materials must be submitted three weeks in advance of a public meeting, and six weeks in advance of the installation.

The Boston Art Commission will review your proposal at their monthly meeting. Your proposal will either be approved, approved with contingency, or denied. If denied, we may invite you to re-submit within a specified timeframe after incorporating the commission's feedback.

Step
1

Before you get started on a permanent project

The Boston Art Commission works under the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture to integrate public art into the City. The Art Commission advises and supports artists, communities, City departments, and others. It commissions, approves, and conserves the City of Boston's public art collection.

PLEASE NOTE:
  • Artwork is only commissioned through public requests for proposals. The City of Boston also accepts proposals for permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary public art. These can be public art interventions, installations, or memorials on City-owned property.

All proposals must be presented to the Boston Art Commission. The commission meets on the second Tuesday of every month (subject to change). The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture works with the commission to help facilitate this process.

Step
2

Find funding

Your initial proposal must have a preliminary budget, including:

  • future maintenance costs, and
  • proof of realized funding sources.

We have helpful information for finding funding online. You can also apply for the City of Boston's Opportunity Fund.

Step
3

Find a site

Work with community stakeholders and neighbors to identify the site for your project. Consider reaching out to:

  • the Boston Art Commission at bac@boston.gov
  • art foundations and local businesses
  • nonprofits, and 
  • anyone with a stake in the project.

You can research property ownership on the City's website. Certain locations might also need approval by the Parks Department or the Landmarks Commission, or both. We can help you research these requirements. There's a map of landmarked locations, and a list of City of Boston parks.

Step
4

Submit your proposal

Submit your proposal through the Public Art and Design application. Your application must include:

  • a project description
  • images of the proposal, an
  • a portfolio of past work.

After submitting, a member of the Boston Art Commission staff will review your proposal and follow up with any questions. They will help you with any questions as you prepare your application for presentation before the commission. If you are picked to present to the commission, we will tell you the presentation date.

Step
5

Get Boston Art Commission approvals

Depending on the scope of the proposal, your project may require various approvals at certain milestones, including:

  • preliminary design
  • final design, and
  • (for permanent work) final acceptance into the City’s art collection.
Step
6

Submit for final approval

Following preliminary approval, you will work with any community stakeholders and staff on technical and curatorial items. Then, you will submit your project for final approval.

Step
1

Before you get started on a memorial project

The Boston Art Commission works under the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture to integrate public art into the City. The Art Commission advises and supports artists, communities, City departments, and others. It commissions, approves, and conserves the City of Boston's public art collection.

PLEASE NOTE:
  • Artwork is only commissioned through public requests for proposals. The City of Boston also accepts proposals for permanent, semi-permanent, or temporary public art. These can be public art interventions, installations, or memorials on City-owned property.

All proposals must be presented to the Boston Art Commission. The commission meets on the second Tuesday of every month (subject to change). The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture works with the commission to help facilitate this process.

Step
2

Find a subject

Memorial subjects must have a direct and significant connection to the City of Boston. 

TIMING AND TIMELINESS

Proposed permanent memorials should retain significance and relevance in the future and be meaningful to future generations. To be considered, the Boston Art Commission requires at least five years to have taken place between an event or the passing of an individual and the permanent commemoration. However, the commission recommends a minimum of 10 years. These requirements can be waived at the discretion of the commission for extraordinary purposes. For more recent events, applicants are urged to consider alternatives. 

PLEASE NOTE:
  • The memorial should not honor living individuals or duplicate any present memorials. The commission inventories all public memorials and recommends applicants review this list prior to submission.
  • Preference is given to proposals that memorialize subjects not currently represented, or subjects that are under-represented.
  • Applicants should consider the long-term impact of a permanent memorial and its ability to withstand conditions. These conditions include weather, vandalism, vagaries of time, and changing attitudes of its importance.
Step
3

Find funding

We have helpful information for finding funding online. You can also apply for the City of Boston's Opportunity Fund.

Step
4

Find a site

Work with community stakeholders and neighbors to identify the site for your project. Consider reaching out to:

  • the Boston Art Commission at bac@boston.gov
  • art foundations and local businesses
  • nonprofits, and 
  • anyone with a stake in the project.

You can research property ownership on the City's website. Certain locations might also need approval by the Parks Department or the Landmarks Commission, or both. We can help you research these requirements. There's a map of landmarked locations, and a list of City of Boston parks.

KEEP IN MIND:

Projects placed on public land must both honor the subject and be considerate of the broader community’s interests and needs. The memorial should have a historical or thematic relationship with any proposed location. Preference is given to proposals in locations where memorials do not already exist. The memorial should not encroach on any pre-existing public artwork.

Step
5

Submit your proposal

Submit your proposal through the Public Art and Design application. Your application must include:

  • identification of the person, group, or event to be memorialized
  • a brief narrative explaining the importance of the person, group, or event and its direct relationship to the City
  • a brief explanation of the visitor experience of the proposed memorial, and a rationale for the proposed memorial location
  • images of the proposal, and
  • a portfolio of past work.
Step
6

Staff reviews your proposal

After submitting, a member of the Boston Art Commission staff will review your proposal. They may contact you and schedule a consultation. At this time, we may invite representatives from other City departments or offices relevant to the proposed memorial. These include, but are not limited to:

  • the Office of Neighborhood Services
  • Veteran's Affairs
  • the Mayor's Office for People with Disabilities, and
  • the Parks and Recreation Department.

If the commission approves the proposal, the project proceeds as any other commissioned work for City of Boston property. For more information on next steps, see the temporary and permanent tabs on this page. If the commission does not approve the proposal, you may consider other forms of memorialization, such as:

PERFORMANCE MEMORIALS:

Memorial concerts may be organized as either a one-time or annual means of commemoration. Please consult the Mayor's Office of Tourism, Sports and Entertainment in advance. The special events application can be found online.

TEMPORARY MEMORIALS: 

Memorials range from temporary sculpture installations to one-day lighting displays. Short-term memorial proposals follow the same guidelines as artist-driven or community-driven temporary public art proposals.

CONTENT-SPECIFIC ALTERNATIVES: 

Some memorial subjects may have alternate permanent memorialization options available through other sources. For example, the Mayor’s Office of Veterans Services offers Hero Squares to honor service members killed in action.

Need to Know:
Community-driven projects

To learn more about proposing an artist-driven project, visit our how-to page:

Community-driven projects
funding your project

There are a couple of different options for finding funding. You can also apply for the Boston Cultural Council Opportunity Fund

Have questions about the application process? Contact:

Boston Art Commission

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