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Public Art Frequently Asked Questions

Find out more about how the City of Thunder Bay acquires public art, and how the Public Art Program works with these responses to frequently asked questions...

1. What is the City's selection process for an Open Competition for Public Art?

    1. A Call to Artists, similar to a Request for Proposals, is created to outline the parameters for the opportunity such as theme, budget, technical requirements and location.
    2. An open invitation is advertised and extended to artists to respond to the Call to Artists to express their interest in creating artwork for the specific location.
    3. A jury led by the City of Thunder Bay's Public Art Committee reviews the submissions received and selects up to three finalists based on the parameters of the opportunity.
    4. Finalists develop detailed proposals of their artwork, often including 3D models.
    5. The jury reviews the detailed proposals using criteria such as artistic merit, compliance to requirements, and feasibility, and considers stakeholder, expert and community input in making their final selection.

2. How is the public involved in the selection process?

The City of Thunder Bay Public Art Program is guided by the Public Art Committee. This advisory committee includes representatives from relevant organizations such as the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Definitely Superior Art Gallery, Lakehead University and the Thunder Bay Historical Museum, and citizens.

Public input is sought during the development of public art projects through the Public Art Committee, project stakeholders, and the broader community. This may include input into the parameters for the Call to Artists (the open competition to select the art), participation on the Jury, and feedback on finalist proposals.

Input is collected through a variety of way such as stakeholder meetings, public events or programs, the City website, social media, and liaising with community organizations or businesses that are related to the opportunity or located in the vicinity of the installation site.

3. Why aren't all of the City's public art competitions limited to local artists?

Nation-wide competitions allow the Public Art Program to select the strongest proposal for each opportunity, showcase a variety of perspectives and approaches, develop a diverse public art collection for the City, and welcome artists from outside our community as we trust other communities will do for our own local artists.

Every competition is unique, and Thunder Bay is now home to a variety of public art by both resident and visiting artists as a result.

The City has a number of works in its collection that are by local artists, including the Algoma Street planters and bollards, the Art Bus, the Celebration Circle panels at the Spirit Garden, sculptures in the Boulevard Lake Sculpture Garden (The Wanderer, Lyon's View, and A Walk with the Kids), and Terra Firma (City Hall). The City provides ongoing support and opportunities to local artists in a number of ways, including:

  • Opportunities specifically geared to the strengths of the local arts community and limited to local artists
  • Opportunities for local artists to develop knowledge, skill and experience in Public Art through workshops and smaller-scale projects
  • Resources such as our Artist Guidebook
  • Exhibition opportunities and purchase of finished works
  • Hiring local artists for public programming and events
  • Funding for community arts projects

4. How is City public art funded?

The City of Thunder Bay does not have a dedicated art acquisition budget. Public art is funded on a project-by-project basis through a variety of sources.

Public art may be funded by external sources such as grants for special projects or commemorations, or donation to the City. Examples include Birch Point, which was funded as part of the City's Forest Capital of Canada designation, and Vertere, which was funded as part of the City's hosting of the 1981 Canada Games.

City departments that are undertaking major capital construction or renovation projects often dedicate a small portion of the overall project budget to a public art component in order to align with the City's Clean, Green & Beautiful Policy.

The Clean, Green & Beautiful Committee also allocates funding toward initiatives that enhance the image of the City in accordance with the objectives of the City's Clean, Green & Beautiful Policy. These often include public art as a component of beautification. Many of the City's more recent public art installations were funded in this way.

5. Who administers the Public Art Program?

The City of Thunder Bay Public Art Program is managed by the Recreation & Culture Division's Cultural Development & Events Section with advice from the Public Art Committee. This committee includes corporate, artist, organizational and citizen representatives.

6. Why is Public Art important?

It is the policy of The Corporation of the City of Thunder Bay to value Public Art as a vital component of culture that visually articulates and celebrates our area's heritage, evolving community identity, and hopes for the future; and beautifies the City.

Public art has the ability to express community values, enhance our environment and heighten our awareness. Art in public spaces is there for everyone and enhances a city's quality of life by:

  • Making the places where we live, work and play more welcoming
  • Connecting community to environment
  • Adding dimension to civic spaces
  • Allowing the community to express its identity and values
  • Enhancing roadsides, pedestrian corridors, gateways and transportation systems

The City of Thunder Bay's Becoming Our Best 2015 - 2018 Corporate Strategic Plan recognizes the value of arts and heritage to Thunder Bay. The Plan recognizes that we must "Celebrate arts and heritage as a key contributor to the quality of life in Thunder Bay" as a strategy in achieving a high quality of life, which can be achieved through implementing the Inspire Thunder Bay Culture Plan.