WESTAF’s Public Art Archive Partnership for Community Engagement Pilot Project

By August 12, 2014 No Comments

See the full document here, http://goo.gl/JLmq6C.


The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) seeks a partner to engage in a proof of concept pilot project to develop a replicable community engagement and documentation program related to public art. The project seeks to develop a replicable guided crowdsourcing model, supported by crowdfunding, that will engage local residents in the public art of their community and also support the sharing of those works in WESTAF’s free online searchable collection of public art in the Public Art Archive™ (PAA™). The focus of the engagement project is on the crowdsourcing of images of public art and the demonstration of the crowdsourcing of limited funds to support the effort.  Organizations of all types, non-profit and for-profit, art-based and non art-based, as well as individuals, are eligible to respond to this opportunity. The entity or individual selected to conduct the pilot will enter into a contract for services with WESTAF and will be paid $10,000 upon the successful completion of the project.

The Challenge

The United States is home to an estimated 200,000 works of public art. Until recently, however, there has been no single place in which images and information about these works could be accessed in a search-rigorous manner to serve the needs of cultural tourists, art researchers, managers of public art programs, and community members who are called on to select works of public art. The four-year-old Public Art Archive currently contains works from more than 800 public art collections in the United States. In order to capture the full range of public art in the United States, there is a need to interest and then involve the public in collecting additional images of public art and information about those works. There is also a need to find ways the Public Art Archive project can be used to build community support for the numerous public art collections across the country.  

One may think that capturing these images and information about public artworks would be a simple exercise of requesting this information from the public art program managers.  However, this is not the case because such a task encounters many significant barriers, including:

  • Limitations on administrative costs which are often inserted into percent for art legislation lead to public art programs that are understaffed and under resourced. As a result, many of them do not have the staff time to prepare works for submission to the Public Art Archive.
  • Multiple historic collection management systems that are often not integrated. This makes for various versions of records in incongruent formats spread over, in some cases, many years.
  • Inconsistent descriptive metadata and a lack of collective access to information about public artworks, due to the fragmented nature of the public art field.
  • A substantial number of works that are in slide form only and not in a digital format.
  • A consistent 10 –15% of images of public artworks that are of less-than-high quality. Blurry, highly pixelated, inadequate color capture, and other issues are surprisingly common across the field.
  • Missing images of a number of works and limited resources to systematically capture those images. In some cases, the location of artworks has changed or the works have been repaired and recent images were not captured.  
  • Offering each community with a public art program the funds they need to prepare and send their images and documentation off to the Public Art Archive may be desirable; however, it is estimated to be a multi-million dollar project for which funds are not available.      

In order to overcome these barriers to building a high quality online archive of the nation’s public art, the Public Art Archive project has identified guided crowdsourcing as a viable strategy for building a more complete database of public art in the United States. Guided crowdsourcing includes training individuals on how to identify public artworks and understand the process by which they were placed, as well as best practices in documenting and photographing those artworks. Data and images submitted by means of guided crowdsourcing are vetted for quality and accuracy before they are added to the Public Art Archive database, ensuring that rigorous standards are upheld. This opportunity seeks to test the potential of crowdsourcing as a means to address the core challenges presented above.

Community Engagement

While the primary purpose of this project is to develop a flow of high-volume, quality images and information about public art to fill out the Public Art Archive, the effort is also part of a larger initiative that seeks to more actively engage the public in public art. Many communities have large and important public art collections yet often lack a knowledgeable and/or engaged constituency for that collection. By engaging communities in the capture of images and information about the public art in their localities, this project has the potential to serve as an important first step in the development of a local public art constituency.


Respondents can be a non-profit or for-profit, arts-based or non-arts based, and may be a private individual. In order to submit a response, the entity or individual must:

  • Have a successful record of managing community engagement projects;
  • Be familiar with the management of a social media campaign to support a community engagement activity;
  • Demonstrate experience with crowdfunding or make a case as to why they could succeed with the crowdfunding component of this project;
  • Identify and work with a public art collection or collections in a contiguous geographic area that has a total of no fewer than 40 works; and
  • Provide a list of potential partners who could be collaborators in this effort.

Scope of Work

The key deliverables of the project partner are:

  • Work effectively with the WESTAF staff to develop a project plan including a budget and timeline.
  • Identify a local, regional, or state collection(s) of public art that will be the target of the project.
  • Enlist the support and cooperation of the manager(s) of the target public art collection(s).
  • Plan and execute a replicable crowdfunding campaign for an estimated $5,000 to $10,000. These funds should be used to purchase materials and support the local activities of the project. Other sources of income are allowed, but the majority of funds should be crowdfunded.
  • Identify collaborators who can work on the project and whose collaboration in this pilot would serve as a model for others.
  • Organize and manage the guided crowdsourcing of the image and data collection. Please see the data and media standards here.
  • Prepare a brief final report that summarizes what was learned from the project. The report needs to describe and analyze:  
  1. How the community was motivated to become engaged in the project;
  2. What was learned from the crowdfunding aspect of the project;
  3. The effectiveness of the crowdsourcing component; and
  4. Perspectives on what follow-up activities might be enacted in order to build a broad constituency for public art.
  • The preferred project completion date is March 31, 2015.

Definition of Public Art

For the purposes of this project, we are looking to engage the community with artworks that are both publicly accessible and sanctioned. Sanctioned artworks have gone through some official process, whether that be through the traditional public art commissioning process, direct purchase, artist initiated, or donation. Artworks from every time period are welcome, but our focus is on contemporary works from 1965 to the present.

WESTAF Support

WESTAF is a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to the creative advancement and preservation of the arts. To accomplish this, WESTAF works in cultural policy, research, and technology. The Public Art Archive is a project that is free to contribute to and access on both desktop and mobile devices. WESTAF brings the following support to this project: 

  • The availability of WESTAF staff to discuss and advise on the project throughout the project’s term;
  • Technology consulting and technology services that can enhance the efficiency of the pilot project;
  • A commitment to public art that dates back to 1976;
  • Established relationships with many public art organizations that can be accessed for advice;
  • Financial support in the amount of $10,000, to be paid in installments for the design, execution of the project and preparation of the final report of the pilot project;
  • Marketing and social media coverage of the project; and
  • Potential for a long-term partnership and additional opportunities.

Selection Criteria

When selecting the winning proposal, the following criteria will be used:

  • The proven ability of the respondent to activate a community;
  • The previous experience in gathering digital information and images from a group;
  • The interest in and capability of the respondent in the crowdfunding aspect of the project; and
  • The ability of the respondent to effectively manage the project.

Submission Process

Only online proposals will be accepted via this form. Please use these questions to formulate your responses before entering them and submitting them using the form. One response per person please.

  1. Describe your previous successes in managing community engagement projects.
  2. Describe your experience with social media platforms and campaigns to support a community engagement activity.
  3. Describe your experience with crowdfunding and/or make the case as to why you could succeed with the crowdfunding component of this project.
  4. Identify a public art collection or collections you would like to work with. This should exist in a contiguous geographic area and have no fewer than 40 works.
  5. Provide a list of potential collaborators.
  6. Please detail any additional ideas for your project you feel we should know about.

    Submission Deadline

    The deadline for submitting a proposal for this project is October 1, 2014. Notification of the award will be made no later than October 20, 2014.


    Initial questions about submitting a proposal or requirements of respondents can be sent to Rachel Cain at Rachel.Cain@westaf.org. Frequently asked questions and answers will be posted on the PAA blog at http://publicartarchive.tumblr.com. Those considering making submissions can participate in an online briefing and question-and-answer session. That session is scheduled for Wednesday, September 17, at 12pm Mountain Standard Time. Please complete this form to RSVP for the webinar. 


    WESTAF reserves the right to not award for this project if no acceptable proposals are received.

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