Terms of Reference for Artists

Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale
Date: December 11, 2017
Deadline: January 29, 2018


Since opening in 1981, The Toronto Sculpture Garden (TSG) commissioned temporary artworks by over 80 artists, in a small City of Toronto park opposite St. James Cathedral on King Street east. Until 2014, it was operated as a partnership between the City of Toronto and the Louis L. Odette Family, benefactors who created the non-profit L.L.O. Sculpture Garden Foundation which funded and administered the exhibitions. Under the direction of Rina Greer, the TSG provided artists with the opportunity to work experimentally in public space, explore issues of scale and materials, and engage with the local community as well as visitors to the neighbourhood. For some, the expansion of their practice beyond the studio led to major public artworks elsewhere.

Now managed by the City of Toronto’s Arts & Culture Services (part of Economic Development & Culture), the TSG will host two projects per year, beginning with commissions for the spring and fall of 2018.

Project Description

The Toronto Sculpture Garden is located at 115 King St. east, just east of Church St., directly across the street from St. James Cathedral and between two of the oldest buildings in the city, dating from the 1840s. Although the historical aspect of the area is evident, artists are not required to incorporate this into their projects. The Sculpture Garden is an invitation to let the imagination roam and an opportunity to dream and experiment.

The park is approximately 80′ by 100′ (25m x 30m) and is open to the public between 8am and 11pm. With its proximity to King St. to the north and the St. Lawrence market neighbourhood to the south, the park serves a wide variety of users, from those who live and work in the area to visitors to the neighbourhood and the City, people of all ages, those seeking out art and those coming across it by accident. Artists are asked to create proposals within the space to the east of the central pathway (see plan below). From May to October, the park’s fountain along the eastern edge is functional.

Toronto Sculpture Garden site plan

View from north west corner, photo courtesy Jade Rude
View from north west corner, photo courtesy Jade Rude

One-Stage Competition

The Toronto Sculpture Garden Request for Proposals is a one-stage, national competition, open to artists who reside in Canada. The projects for the Toronto Sculpture Garden will be selected by a specially-convened, independent selection panel, which will meet in February of 2018 to choose both projects for 2018.

A request for proposals invited artists to submit credentials, a proposal and examples of past work. This call was broadcast via akimbo December 11 and 20, 2017, and January 3, 2018. The City of Toronto Arts & Culture Services also conducted outreach to artists, artist-run centres, visual arts organizations and galleries across Canada.

Competition Selection Panel

The selection panel for the Toronto Sculpture Garden consists primarily of visual arts professionals, appointed for their expertise and knowledge of contemporary visual art, and members of the local community; the selection panel is responsible for selecting both projects for 2018.

The selection panel may elect to recommend that no award be made and the selection panel recommendation may be subject to the review and approval of City of Toronto Council. No official winner may be made public until the City of Toronto review and approval process is complete.

The selection panel will meet in February (date to be confirmed) to review the eligible submissions and choose two projects to be completed in 2018. Members of City of Toronto staff will be present in an ex-officio capacity, with no vote.

Ex-officio Members (non-voting)

Catherine Dean (Public Art Officer, City of Toronto)
Clara Hargittay (Public Art Officer, City of Toronto)
Mark Emslie (Parks, Forestry & Recreation, City of Toronto)

Competition Schedule

January 8: info session for artists
January 22: last day for questions
January 29: deadline for artist proposals
February TBC: selection panel meeting
Mid-February: artists notified

In preparing a proposal, artists should formulate their ideas based on the overall commissioning budget of $30,000.00 CAD (+HST).

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • All artist fees ($5,000.00 recommended);
  • All expenses and disbursements, including rental of studio and storage space, if necessary; contract administration, legal and insurance costs, travel and other incidental expenses;
  • Materials and technologies for the artwork;
  • All sub-contractor fees including all engineering (i.e. structural and electrical) fees, legal fees, architect fees, etc.;
  • All drawings and related sub-contractor / preparation fees;
  • Site preparation;
  • Landscaping;
  • All applicable taxes;
  • Fabrication;
  • Transportation and shipping;
  • Installation and removal costs.

The artist’s scope of work will include all stages of the development and installation of the artwork(s) from conception to completion, including detailed design development, fabrication, installation and removal. The artist will work with the City of Toronto’s Arts & Culture Services, and Parks, Forestry & Recreation, to achieve concept(s) within the schedule set for the Toronto Sculpture Garden.

Please consider the following in developing your concept proposal:

Artwork Materials and Maintenance

  • Artwork materials should be suitable for public, outdoor installation. Artists should ensure that materials, methods of assembly and installation are low-maintenance, durable, weather-resistant and high-quality. Materials must meet all current health and safety standards, and be available in Ontario should replacement be required.
  • As this site is not protected from the elements, all artwork components must be able to shed water (avoiding problems of water build up and infiltration), and be constructed of materials resistant to oxidation and corrosion. Wintertime salt spray should also be taken into consideration.
  • Proposals should clearly indicate all technologies and related equipment, infrastructure requirements (such as electrical or data connections), and materials and finishes proposed for each element of the artwork concept.
  • Proposals should include an outline of any audio-visual content and programming.
  • Technologies and housing must be resistant to weather conditions, vandalism, oxidation and corrosion.
  • The park has above-grade elements as well as below-grade conduits and channels for electricity or data that may be used as part of the infrastructure required for the artwork.
  • The artwork should be designed to minimize the potential for public defacement, graffiti, vandalism, skateboarding, etc.
  • The budget must include all footings or foundations for artwork elements and/or any housing for artwork elements.
  • Construction of freestanding sculptural or structural elements must conform to the Ontario building code. Municipal codes and by-laws are available on the City of Toronto website. For more information, see: http://www.Toronto.ca/legdocs/bylaws/lawhome.htm
  • The artwork may include digital, electronic, light or kinetic elements.

Site Maintenance and Public Safety

  • The artwork must not interfere with park maintenance, including snow removal during winter months.
  • The artwork must not have components that are sharp, dangerously located, or easily climbed. Preferred vertical clearance is 3m, with a minimum of 2.5m. The lateral clearance from the edge of the path should be 1m (preferred) or 0.6m minimum. Any protruding elements should be outside of those zones.
  • If climbing is intended, the artwork will be required to meet CSA safety standards for play equipment.
  • The artwork should not create a situation where a lack of visibility creates a security risk or perceived security risk.


  • Artists will need to develop proposals mindful of both day and night-time noise levels, given the partially residential nature of the neighbourhood,
  • Proposals that include digital or electronic components should incorporate time-based on/off programming possibilities or be triggered by human presence or some similar system to ensure that noise from the artwork does not become a nuisance.
  • Artists should refer to the municipal noise bylaw information.

Lighting and Electrical

  • The park includes lighting, but additional lighting can be considered as long as it is within the overall project budget.
  • If lighting is an integral component of the artwork, a lighting consultant must be used to review durability, light pollution, energy efficiency, equipment storage locations and ease of maintenance of the proposed lighting system.
  • The environmental impact of any proposed lighting should be minimal and should meet relevant energy efficiency and health and safety standards.
  • Any proposed lighting should promote comfortable and safe use of the site at night.
  • The finalist will be expected to work with City of Toronto staff to define the method of electrical supply during the design review and project realization stages.
  • Solar power is preferable to conventional power wherever possible.
  • If the proposal includes an operating system (power or data), the artist must include an estimated operating cost. This cost is not part of the artist’s allocated budget.

Access and Views

  • The artwork must be designed to be barrier-free and accessible to all visitors, in all seasons.
  • Artists should take into account that the site is a public park which will be frequented by people of all ages.
  • The artwork should not interfere with pedestrian flow.
  • The artworks will be viewed primarily by the users of the park, although visibility to pedestrians, cyclists, drivers and public transit users is also encouraged.

All artists must submit the following digital proposal

Submissions must include the following items:

  1. CV (maximum 4 pages .pdf) include your current email and phone number.
  2. Written proposal concept (maximum 2 page .pdf). Please specify whether you would like to be considered for spring, fall or both.
  3. Proposal Images: Include sketches, renderings, materials, design details, a plan to show locations and any other relevant information to explain your project. (pdf.)
  4. Additional Images: maximum ten (10) images of relevant existing work. Image files must be titled with image number, name of artist and title of artwork, e.g. 01artistnameartworktitle.jpg.
    Please ensure that your images conform to the following requirements:

    • jpg format
    • RGB colour mode
    • 72 dpi
    • 1 mb maximum size per image
    • Individual files, not embedded in word, pdf or powerpoint documents
  5. Image information sheet (maximum 1 page .pdf) Include brief descriptions of each image with number, artist name, title, date, materials and dimensions
  6. A preliminary budget, as well as a projected production, fabrication and installation schedule. A breakdown of budget items to address is listed under Eligibility and Evaluation Criteria.

Note: Do not submit models, maquettes or videos. If you choose to make three-dimensional or moving image representations, you must submit these as 2-d images.

Deadline for submissions is Monday, January 29th, 2018 by 4:00pm EST.

Deliver to: publicartcompetitions@toronto.ca

The selection panel will evaluate each artist’s proposal based on the following criteria:

  • Strong aesthetic elements;
  • Examples of artistic innovation, interpretation and integration of art in the context of the site.
  • Demonstrated or perceived ability to execute a project of this scope, and work collaboratively with manufacturing, technical, and installation elements to realize a finished public artwork (although not all will have had the previous opportunity).

Submissions may be disqualified if:

  • An artist or artist team improperly attempts to influence members of the selection panel;
  • There is a breach of any competition condition, procedure or instruction;

Post-Competition Procedures

The final recommendation and awarding of the commission:

  • The selection panel may elect to recommend that no commission(s) be awarded.
  • The selection panel’s decision is final and no appeals from artists concerning their decision will be permitted.
  • No official winner may be made public until the agreement between the City of Toronto and the winning artist has been finalised.
  • Before engaging the winning artist, the City of Toronto will need to be satisfied that the individual has the capacity to undertake the development and completion of the artwork with the appropriate professional skills.

Ownership and Use of the Winning Proposal

The artists retains ownership of the work.


Copyright shall remain the property of the artist and the artist shall grant the City the irrevocable, paid-up, royalty-free right and license to exhibit the work in public and to reproduce the work on posters, promotional pieces and brochures related to the City, as well as the City’s website.

Basic Conditions of Future Agreement(s) Between Artist and the City of Toronto

The winning artist and the City of Toronto will enter into an agreement, which will include the identification of the scope of services to be performed by the artist, payments and performance schedules to be followed.

Details of the fabrication, installation and project management will be the sole responsibility of the artist.

Final selection of material, technologies, etc., may be reconsidered due to technical considerations, which are to be resolved with City of Toronto staff and the artist and their sub-consultants. A qualified structural engineer will be required to approve final drawings of any structural components of the project.

Note: competitors who object to the fundamental terms of the agreement will be required to notify the City of Toronto of these points of objection and the City of Toronto will have the right to review the objections and ask the artist to withdraw from the competition if those objections are opposed to the City of Toronto’s interests.

Artists may submit questions about any aspect of this competition by email to the following address: publicartcompetitions@toronto.ca

Competition Contacts

Catherine Dean
Public Art Officer
Tel. 416-395-0249
Email: catherine.dean@toronto.ca


Clara Hargittay
Public Art Officer
Tel. 416-392-4173
Email: clara.hargittay@toronto.ca