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Acquisition Process

The City of Thunder Bay engages artists and acquires new works of art through a variety of established processes, outlined below:

  • Open Calls to Artists (competitions)
  • Pre-Qualified Artist Index
  • Purchase of Finished Works
  • Programming Partnerships
    • Art Installation in Public Spaces - Visual Art Course
    • Waterfront Banner Program
    • Public Murals Program


The majority of the City's competitions are administered via Open Call to Artists. Artists are invited to respond to an Expression of Interest (EOI) document, which is juried by a panel comprised of representatives from the Public Art Committee, City administration, artists, art professionals and stakeholders. Short-listed artists are invited to respond to a Request for Proposals (RFP). Final selection is determined by jury.


The Pre-Qualified Artist Index was developed in response to the volume of integrated public art projects occuring in the city. The nature of integrated artwork requires artists to be involved during the early stages of project design through to implementation. In these select cases, the artist has a consulting role and is part of a Design Team. Though a collaborative process the artist creates works of public art that impact overall site construction such as: Ground / ceiling / wall treatments, seating areas, lighting structures, etc. Consulting Artists may be asked to suggest opportunities and sites for public art and / or artistic concepts. 

The Pre-Qualified Artist Index is employed on a case-by-case basis when approved by the Public Art Committee.  Submissions to the Index are solicited via Open Call to Artists, juried, and a jury selects Pre-Qualified who will be invited to respond to RFPs for consulting opportunities. 


There are occasions when a City Department, Commission or Board under the mandate of City Council desires to purchase a finished work of art from an individual artist, a corporation, an organization or through a commercial gallery. The artwork may be purchased to develop the City’s permanent art collection or to beautify a specific civic space. As with commissioned works, all purchases of finished art works are subject to the City’s Policy for Art in Public Spaces and collection mandate. Any opportunities for artists to submit portfolios for jury consideration will be listed on the Open Call to Artists page.

A sub-committee of the Public Art Committee is formed to consider each potential purchase. Recommendations may be based on advice from outside individuals or organizations relevant for the art being considered. For example: A curator or director from a local art gallery or heritage organization; a representative of the site for the artwork; a professional in a relevant discipline.


The City of Thunder Bay also forms partnerships with local individual artists and organizations to produce and/or purchase public art projects. Examples of these kinds of partnerships are: 

Art Installation in Public Spaces - Visual Art Course
In 2010 representatives from the City’s Public Art Committee and Recreation & Culture Division collaborated with Lakehead University to develop a pilot public art course. The course addressed the needs of artists seeking increased familiarity fabricating public art and responding to Open Calls for Artists.

Waterfront Banner Program
In 2008 and 2009 the City partnered with the Thunder Bay Art Gallery’s Arts Access program to enable youth from local high schools to design and submit artistic streetlight banners as part of a juried competition. Arts Access staff were assisted by Mark Nisenholt, Associate Professor of Visual Arts at Lakehead University, and Kevin Element, Program Coordinator for Confederation College’s Multimedia production program.

The banners were displayed during the summer on Water Street and into Prince Arthur's Landing.

Public Murals Program
This 2008 spring pilot program program focused on revitalizing the retail downtown core of the Fort William neighbourhood. The City provided grants for the majority of fabrication and installation costs to produce five murals. The muralists partnered with local businesses and organizations who provided the sites and remaining funds for each artistic concept. The resulting series of unique, distinct murals tell the stories - past and present - of a multi-cultural Thunder Bay.

The murals program was developed by the Fort William Neighbourhood Renewal Office (FWNRO) with input from the City’s Cultural Services Supervisor, the Fort William Neighbourhood Renewal Team, the Heritage Advisory Committee, the Cultural Services Advisory Committee, the Clean Green & Beautiful Committee (CGBC), the Public Art Committee (PAC), and various local artists and individuals.

Public Art Frequently Asked Questions
Learn more about how the City acquires public art and how the Public Art Program is administered with these responses to Public Art Frequently Asked Questions