A Note from the GAAC:
Some cities in the US use a pre-qualified artist registry for their public art projects. What does this mean, and why do they do it that way?
A pre-qualified artist registry is a list that a city’s public art department will maintain of artists who they have already vetted for professional qualifications and will often then be the ONLY artists eligible for city-funded public art projects. So, it is vital to get onto those registries if you ever want to create public art in the cities that follow this system.
Why do some cities use this method instead of just running calls and checking the professional experience of applying artists each time? Usually the cities that run public art calls in this manner have well-established public art programs that are funded entirely from taxpayer money or percent for art developer contributions from new construction. Their calls are run through their cities’ procurement departments, and every procurement department in the world is tasked with vigilantly certifying that tax funds are being used correctly. So, these cities must ensure that every artist they engage with for public art is officially qualified and legally eligible to be hired by their cities’ procurement departments. It is basically a way to reduce headaches and heartaches when running a call.
The good news is, once you have passed muster and qualified as a professional public artist with a city, that city will send you all its calls for art, directly. You never have to search for their calls.
The bad news is, it might take you a few tries to figure out what you need to provide to be considered qualified.
The GREAT news is, if you don’t figure it out the first time, you are always allowed to try again, and you will be told what part of the application was not sufficient. So, if you don’t get in the first time, chances are you’ll get in after you learn their system.
The REALLY GREAT news is, even though this sounds like a bureaucratic nightmare, usually there is some truly nice person who is going to try to help you navigate the paperwork. So when there’s an email or a phone number listed…reach out. There’s a real person at the other end who wants as many great artists on that list as possible, usually.
VIA The City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program: The City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program commissions a variety of public artworks in collaboration with City departments and other organizations engaged in capital development projects across Durham, North Carolina. The City of Durham’s Cultural and Public Art Program defines public art as original visual art including, but not limited to, sculptures, murals, photographic renderings, mosaics, and electronic art installations.
Project locations may include but are not limited to the City’s parks, sidewalks, interior and exterior walls, vehicles, bus stops, and spaces that are visible from public streets and pedestrian walkways. Public art is traditionally free of admission fees, and administered through a public process that provides opportunities for the community to provide input.
The City of Durham’s Pre-Qualified Artist Registry will be used to select artists when a project’s requirements render it suitable. Selection will be based on the appropriateness of the artist’s medium and experience relevant to specific project requirements. The City continuously seeks greater diversity and urges artists and artist teams of all backgrounds and any medium to become part of the pre-qualified registry.