Frequently Asked Questions
Artists interested in public art commissions are encouraged to keep abreast of new and current opportunities by subscribing to the Public Art Program email list and checking this site for New Requests for Qualifications (RFQ).
We also advertise opportunities through the City and County of San Francisco’s Office of Contract Administration’s Bids and Contracts Database at http://mission.sfgov.org/OCABidPublication.
Submission of unsolicited work is discouraged. New work is commissioned specifically for each project; rarely do we purchase existing artwork. We prefer to receive applications from artists in response to specific projects.
Specific application requirements are defined in the Request for Qualifications published by the Arts Commission to announce each new project opportunity. Generally, the artist is asked to submit 10 imgages documenting his/her artwork, resume, letter of interest and annotated slide list. Proposals are not required at the time applications are submitted. Applications are through SlideRoom, an online application system: https://sfgov.slideroom.com/.
Artists, curators, and arts professionals are invited to submit a resume to be considered as candidates for Artist Selection Panels. Community members are generally selected by the community in which the project is to occur.
Some projects do require a specific level of experience or expertise in a particular medium, however, the Arts Commission encourages artists who have not yet executed a permanent public art project to apply. The artist will need to demonstrate that he or she will procure professional consultation to assist in the design and execution of the project.
Geographic eligibility is based upon budgetary considerations and an evaluation of the project and the constituency it serves. Please refer to the project RFQ for accurate information about the criteria used to evaluate applications. In most projects, the following criteria are used:
- Artistic excellence and originality as evidenced by representation of past work in slides and other supporting materials.
- Appropriateness of artist’s approach and style to the project’s intent and site.
- Availability to work within project time-frame and to be present in San Francisco during the design and review process.
- Experience with projects of a similar scale and scope or the proven ability to procure professional consultation to assist in the design and execution of the project.
Selection panels, composed of arts professionals and representatives from city and community agencies, are established for every public art project. The panel’s recommendation for the selected artist is forwarded to the Visual Arts Committee for preliminary approval and the Arts Commission for final approval.
Because of the collaborative nature of most of our projects, familiarity and previous experience with design team collaboration, public agencies, and the public review process is very helpful.
Unless asked to do so, please do not develop specific proposals. Upon selection, the artist or artist team will usually be asked to develop a conceptual proposal after meeting with project designers/architects, as well as city agency and community representatives.
The City and County of San Francisco, in its effort to provide equality of opportunity and equality of benefits, requires that all entities receiving public monies comply with Sections 12B and 12D of the Administrative Code, relative to provision of equal benefits to registered domestic partners and demonstration of good faith efforts to hire minority-owned, women-owned and San Francisco-based subcontractors.
The selected artist(s) will be required to comply with American with Disabilities Act requirements in addition to related federal, state and local codes and will be encouraged to develop artwork(s) sensitive to programmatic as well as physical accessibility issues in cooperation with the Art Commission and disabled communities.
In the C-3 zone of downtown San Francisco, private construction projects are subject to a 1% for art requirement. Selection of the artist is left to the discretion of the property developer. This requirement is overseen by the Department of City Planning. Planning staff ensure that the art is publicly accessible, falls into one of their categories of acceptable public art and is equal to 1% of the construction cost. Artwork of this kind does not have to go through any kind of public process and the Arts Commission approval is not required unless the artwork is placed on City property. The 1% cannot be used for architectural ornamentation proposed by the project architect. The Planning Department has published a booklet about this requirement for developers. You may contact The Planning Department by phone at 415-558-6378. Their website address is http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx?page=2744.