Tips for Finding a Public Commission Art Opportunity

Suzy Kopf | May 24, 2023

“41 Structures,” a creative collaboration between Debbie Clapper (aka gneural) & Cacheflowe, is an immersive digital mural that evolves through a series of 41 animated designs. By anchoring our animated elements to window corners and subdividing the architecture into a necessarily-imperfect grid, we built a custom canvas for our geometries to explore and play together. Photo by Ryan Policky.

Interested in making work that will become a part of your city's landscape? 

If you’re an artist interested in making work that will be shown publicly or that will become part of the permanent landscape of your city, you need to consider applying for public commissions.

"Public art is any opportunity that an artist has to engage with the public realm. It is about artists making a conscious effort to engage and collaborate in the public realm," said artist, public art manager, and consultant Renee Piechocki.

This sector of the art world is often (but not always) associated with and overseen by nonprofits, which means that instead of selling yourself and your ideas to one person—such as a gallerist or collector as you do in the commercial art world—you need to convince a whole group of people such as a board of directors of your work’s relevance.

The convincing happens in the application you’ll put together which typically includes an image portfolio of previous projects, a written component, and sometimes, a full project proposal and budget.

But, before you can even get to putting together a winning application, you need to find calls for public commissions in which to apply.


Start with the right places to search for art opportunities

Artwork Archive is a great place to start your search; our 2023 Opportunity Guide has national and regional public commissions listed, with more opportunities being added all the time.

Commissions that are selected by public call and projects are often paid for by taxpayers' money, which means that who is eligible to apply is often limited to where you live by state, region, or even county.

The way to find the most opportunities in which you are eligible is to start your search in your own community. This is also a good place to start if you haven’t done any budget-based project work before—it’s harder (but not impossible) to get the opportunity to make a six-figure international commission if you haven’t first done a few smaller budget ones in the past.


Consider places in your community such as hospitals, museums, and airports

When searching in your community, consider places where you frequently see public art pieces such as hospitals, museums that get state funding, airports, municipal and government offices, and public lands like parks and recreation areas with outdoor sculptures or installations.

Hospitals can be a great place for you to market and sell your artwork. According to the Arts and Health Alliance, 56% of all hospitals, hospices and nursing centers use parts of their operating budgets to buy paintings and sculptures.

Airport terminals are looking more and more like the wings of an art museum. With their massive atriums, seemingly endless corridors, and captive travelers, airports are a perfect venue for art installations.

Tip: learn more about working with hospitals here and working with airports here.

Look on the websites of these entities and see if they have any calls for proposals listed. Sign up for their opportunity newsletters or join Artwork Archive's newsletter and get weekly opportunities like public art deadlines sent to your inbox.

If the organizations that you are interested in don’t have anything currently on their website, you can try instead to look up the CVs of the artists who previously created work for these sites. See if you can find more information there.

You can also reach out over email to people with job titles such as “Public Arts Coordinator” who work for your city’s government or any city-sponsored arts organizations to find out when their next deadline is.


Look to those artists who have previously secured public funding for their work

As always, it’s never a bad idea to review the CVs of artists you know who have already done some public commissions and see if you can learn anything about when or how much funding they received to complete their work.

You can also reach out to them directly and ask if they would be willing to talk to you about their experience with a particular commission, and if they recommend it. You’d be surprised how much most people are willing to freely share about their experiences.


Expand your search for public art commissions once you have gotten a few projects under your belt

Once you’ve acquainted yourself with what kinds of local opportunities exist where you live, and gotten a couple of projects to the completion stage, you can expand your searches to national and international opportunities you’re eligible for.

With these opportunities you feel your work is a good match for, ask yourself how far you are willing to travel to both make and deliver the artwork.

Are you willing to drive a sculpture you made in California to Chicago for display?

Pay attention to the information in the call that indicates a bias towards local or already-established artists—if you don’t fall into one of those groups you could be wasting your time. Like with all applications, expect to put in a lot of work for possibly a lot of rejection. But if you’re successful with even one application, your art has the possibility to live on beyond you in a totally new way!

Increase your chances of getting accepted by following directions. "If an RFQ says don’t come up with an idea, then don’t propose an idea. In an RFQ, you are not looking for projects developed in isolation. You are looking for artists to come up with an idea in the context of the project and with the community," Renee Piechocki advises.


Search and save your favorite public art opportunities on Artwork Archive 

Each year the Artwork Archive team goes on a mission to find the best art opportunities, grants, and calls-for-entry for the upcoming year—including the best public art opportunities.

You can find a list of the top call for public art, artist residencies, international open calls, artist grants, exhibition opportunities and art competitions in Artwork Archive's 2023 Opportunity Guide

This year, we added another new feature! You can now save the important deadlines for your favorite opportunities right in your Artwork Archive account.

When you find a call that interests you, simply click ‘Add to Schedule' and the call's deadline will be automatically added to your Schedule. You'll also receive weekly reminders to keep you on top of your game.

We will be updating this list throughout the year, so make sure to bookmark the page, check back often, and let us know if there is an opportunity that should be listed!

August 22, 2023

Call for Artist's: Burlington City Arts CityPlace Streetscape.
Public Art & Proposals

  • Submission Deadline: August 22, 2023
  • Award Info: Permanent public art installations: CityPlace Streetscape.
  • Eligibility: International
  • Categories: Craft/Traditional Arts, Photography, Drawing, Film/Video/New Media, Mixed-Media/Multi-Discipline, Painting, Sculpture

All in one platform for artists

Here are a couple of great sites we recommend to find even more artist opportunities!


Artwork Archive | Call for Entry

Free to peruse, we feature everything from dream residencies and life-changing grants, to fun festivals, art business workshops, and competitions for some extra cash. We make it easy to search, too! Filter by opportunity type, location, event dates, eligibility, and more to find exactly what your art practice needs to flourish.


While you may know this site for its wide array of calls for shows, exhibitions, and residencies, this site also boasts a collection of grants and awards. Search through the listings at no cost which covers all the need-to-know details for applying, including entry deadline, fees, location eligibility, and more.

The Art Guide

Not sure if you want to apply through a third party, Art Guide is the free artist opportunity site for you. This call for entries website allows you to apply directly to the organization offering the grant. The list is updated daily so there'll always be a great new opportunity to pursue.

Formerly Artist Opportunity Monthly, all you need to do is sign up with your email and they send you thoroughly screened opportunities every month, including grants. AOM prides itself on ensuring each opportunity is worthwhile. A more comprehensive monthly list is offered at $5 a year.

Another site you may have heard of is According to their website, it is “the largest and most respected source for artists seeking income and exhibition opportunities.” The site may cost you a subscription fee of $20 a year to view the majority of its opportunities, but you can still browse many grants listed for free on their homepage and the @ArtDeadline Twitter account.

Curator Space

CuratorSpace is a project management toolkit for curators, organizers, galleries, and artists. It is designed to take the hassle out of managing exhibitions, competitions, fairs, and a whole lot more. Plus, they are a great site for finding art opportunities worldwide!

Re-title is a service for professional contemporary artists searching for opportunities, such as competitions, exhibitions, residencies, etc. A site for international contemporary art, this is another great site to find opportunities around the world! There’s even a map you can click on to search opportunities regionally and world clocks at the top of their site so you can submit applications on time!

Res Artist is a Worldwide Network of Arts Residencies from around the globe. The network comprises more than 700 vetted members in over 85 countries. They aim to support and connect residencies, engage and advocate the importance of residencies in today’s society by providing artists with resources and upcoming residency information.

Art Rabbit

Art Rabbit compiles a selection of international open calls and opportunities for contemporary art-related competitions, prizes, exhibitions, awards, proposals, and grants for artists, writers, and curators. They publish a selection of open calls from a pool of submissions and editorial research. Only open calls believed to offer meaningful benefits to applicants at different stages of their careers are published.

Creative Capital

Creative Capital is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to fund artists in the creation of groundbreaking new work in the visual arts, performing arts, literature, film, technology, and multidisciplinary practices, including socially-engaged work in all forms. Their pioneering model of grantmaking also provides thousands of artists with scaffolding and infrastructure support via professional development programs, networking opportunities, and educational resources.

Art Show attracts thousands of artists and art enthusiasts each day. They advertise worldwide juried shows, exhibitions, and competitions across any and all mediums. has been recognized in "Must-See Web Sites for Artists" by The Artist's Magazine and has received favorable mention in several other art publications, including American Artist, Southwest Art, Watercolor Magic, and The Pastel Journal , as well as The Wall Street Journal .

Ready to apply?

Applications can be extensive. After all, organizations need to ensure their funding will be in good hands.

Be prepared to present yourself in the best light by having your information and images in an organized manner—and avoiding the last-minute stress of scrambling to find files.

Art inventory software like Artwork Archive can help you get ready to apply for grants and opportunities without the hassle.

With Artwork Archive , you can manage jury-ready photos of your work and their inventory details, as well as generate professional documents like portfolio pages and inventory reports. If asked for a list of past exhibitions and competitions to validate your professional status, you can see your complete show history with the click of a button. Just think of the time you’ll save not having to remember or dig up all of this information!

You can even add application deadlines to the “My Schedule” feature and receive email reminders before it’s time to submit so you never miss out on these opportunities.

Best practices for applying to grants.

Add this to your Artwork Archive schedule.
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