You can’t win it if you’re not in it: Artist registries and public art
Public art is weird. (yes, I said it) It’s like acting, in that artists have to “audition” for every potential job (commission) by sending in their qualifications. Luckily it can be done digitally fairly easily, but how do you know where the jobs even are? And even if you do know, it’s very time-consuming to apply each and every time. Isn’t there a better way?
This is where artist registries come in. Many of the highly active public art and percent-for-art programs across the U.S. (and beyond) maintain categorized databanks of artists, sometimes juried for quality, that they consult when they have a short-notice commission, a commission that requires someone with a particular skill set, or other circumstance making an open, public call not feasible. Some programs have a policy that they select ALL their commissioned public artists from the registry! The staff that runs the registry may also provide artist information to “sister” agencies within the city, county or state government, for future reference or for active projects.
Artists contacted through the registry are typically scooted to the “finalist” phase and asked to be one of several artists to create a proposal, or may be contacted as part of a short list of interviews for a direct commission. It’s a huge time-saver for the commissioning agency and a welcome morale-booster for the artist to avoid the usual cattle call. However, depending on the project, some programs will pull artists from the registry for automatic consideration and at the same time will send an open call to try and bring fresh artists.
In some programs the registry is available to the public (including architects, art consultants, corporations and designers) to review when making commissioning or purchase decisions of their own. Being in the registry may, therefore, double or triple an artist’s chances of obtaining a commission. If the agency can’t use the work, maybe someone else can.
The good news is, it is typically no more difficult to apply to a registry than to apply to an open call. Provide an artist statement, resume, about 10 digital images with descriptions, maybe pick some categories that describe your work, and that’s it. Once accepted, your information stays active for up to several years. Some juried registries require periodic re-jurying for everyone, some open the registry annually to new entries, and some encourage artists, once they’re in, to refresh their information annually. Some will even send a reminder.
The bad news is, finding these registries can take a bit of time. But we’ve done the research for you! That’s the reason for this post: to help artists shorcut the search and go directly to evaluating whether a particular registry is right for them. Listed below are links to some of the most popular artist registries with basic information about how they work and when they open for new submissions.
Unless otherwise noted, the listed registries have no geographical restrictions for inclusion (or they accept Indianapolis-area artists), and there is no charge to submit information to the registry or for others to view work in the registry if it is open to the public. Be sure to check your city, county, and/or state arts agency for any geographically-restricted registries they may maintain. These are often good sources for commissions local to you.
Julia Muney Moore
Director of Public Art
Arts Council of Indianapolis
Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs: http://www.ocaatlanta.com/artistregistry/ USA artists only. Call is open periodically for a limited time: contact Public Art Program Manager Eddie Granderson for next window, firstname.lastname@example.org Juried. Online public access to registry.
ArtsWashington: http://www.arts.wa.gov/public-art/2015-roster-competition/step-1-read-the-guidelines USA and British Columbia artists only. Call is open every 3 years for a limited period of time; last open in summer 2015, next opening summer 2018. Juried. Roster is available to the public as a PDF document with artist names and city/state of residence; not searchable online.
Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts (BOPA) Prequalified Artist Registry and Mural Artist Registry: Open every 3 years for a limited time; last open in 2014, next open in 2017. Contact Maggie Villegas, Public Art Specialist, for next window, email@example.com. Juried. Public access on request for mural artist registry only.
Cambridge (MA) Arts: http://www.cambridgema.gov/arts/publicart/percentforart/aboutsubmissionsandpolicies Open, create profile and upload information anytime. (note: program uses the Slideroom service to manage entries) Non-juried. No expiration. No public access to registry.
Cincinnati Park Board: http://www.cincinnatiparks.com/about-us/art-architecture/cincinnati-park-board-public-art-registry-a-call-to-artists/ Open, submit information anytime. Non-juried. No expiration. No public access to registry.
Colorado Percent for Art: http://www.coloradocreativeindustries.org/artists-entrepreneurs/calls-entry/state-colorado-public-art-opportunities USA artists only. Call is open periodically for a limited time for special projects; will be listed at link when open so check in frequently.
Connecticut Office of Culture and Tourism: http://www.cultureandtourism.org/cct/cwp/view.asp?a=3933&Q=464362&PM=1 USA artists only. Non-juried. Create profile and upload information anytime. No public access to registry.
City of Culver City, CA: http://www.culvercity.org/Culture/PublicArt/InformationArtists.aspx Open, submit information anytime. Non-juried. Entries expire after five years with no updates. No public access to registry.
City of Greenville, SC: http://www.greenvillesc.gov/1114/Art-in-Public-Places Open, submit online form anytime. Non-juried; does not expire. No public access to registry. Link to online submission form is not functional: contact Tracy Ramseur, staff liaison to the Art in Public Places Commission, firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Iowa Art in State Buildings: http://www.iowaartscouncil.org/programs/art-in-state-buildings/index.shtml Open to new registrants for a brief period twice a year; contact Matthew Harris, email@example.com for next window (will be listed on opportunities page). Non-juried. Resubmit every three years. Roster is available to the public as a PDF document with artist names and media only; not searchable online.
City of Las Vegas Public Art Program: http://lvartscommission.com/artist-registration/ Open, submit online form anytime to receive additional instructions. Non-juried; does not expire. Roster is available to the public online with free registration.
Los Angeles County, CA: http://www.lacountyarts.org/civicart_opportunities.htm Call is open every 2-3 years for a limited time; sign up for their email list to learn when the next application window opens (email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up). Juried. Online public access to registry. (note: several outside public art agencies use this list as “their” registry)
Minnesota State Arts Board: http://www.percentforart.us/ Open, create profile and upload information anytime. Non-juried. No expiration. Limited public access to registry.
New York City Percent for Art Registry: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dcla/html/panyc/form.shtml Open, create profile and upload information anytime (note: hard copy submission only; no online uploads) Non-juried. No expiration; refresh anytime. Inactive entries (i.e., no updates in 3 years) may be deleted without notice. No online public access to registry, but certain users may request appointment to visit in person and search.
Ohio Online Visual Artists Registry: http://www.oac.state.oh.us/Programs/OnlineVisualArtist/VisualArtistRegister.asp Open, create profile and upload information anytime. Non-juried. No expiration; refresh anytime. Online public access to registry, at http://www.ohioonlinearts.org/ .
City of Palm Desert, CA: http://www.cityofpalmdesert.org/Index.aspx?page=494 Open, email information to public art program manager anytime. Lightly juried. No expiration; submit refreshed materials anytime. Online public access to registry.
Philadelphia Public Art Program: http://creativephl.org/registry Open, create profile and upload information anytime. Non-juried. Stay in registry for two years and update anytime in those two years. No public access to registry.
City of Port St. Lucie, FL: http://www.cityofpsl.com/planning-zoning/public-art-requirements.html (note: for very experienced public artists only) Open, submit information and website address online. Juried. No expiration. No public access to registry.
Public Artist: http://www.publicartist.org Membership costs $300/yr or $27.99/mo. Open, no deadline to create account and upload information. Non-juried. Online access available to arts administrators, architects, and designers. (note: some public art programs also use Public Artist to manage their calls for artists; a free basic membership allows artists to submit their information to these calls but not maintain an image and documents library for access by others)
San Antonio, TX: http://www.publicartist.org/pasa/ Seeks new submissions annually, mid-September to mid-October. Juried. Stay in pool for 2 years, then must re-jury. Online public access to juried registry.
San Francisco Arts Commission: http://www.sfartscommission.org/pubartcollection/category/calls-for-artists/ Registry is used for projects under $500,000. Call is open about every 2 years for a limited period of time. (note: agency uses the Slideroom service to manage entries) Juried. Must resubmit each time call is released to stay on the registry. No public access to registry.
United States General Services Administration’s Art in Architecture Program (public art in Federal buildings anywhere): http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104456 Open to all US citizens (residing anywhere) or permanent residents of the US. Email or submit CD of information anytime with required forms. Non-juried. No expiration; refresh anytime. No public access to registry.
University of North Texas: https://cvadforms.unt.edu//appp-registration Open, create profile and upload information anytime. Non-juried. No expiration; refresh anytime. No public access to registry.
UrbanArt Commission (Memphis, TN): http://www.urbanartcommission.org/artists/join-the-registry/ Open, create profile and upload information anytime. Non-juried. No expiration; refresh anytime. Online public access to registry.