The City of Toronto has a legacy of public art that dates from the middle of the 19th century. Today, the City of Toronto’s Public Art and Monuments Collection contains over 200 works that are managed and maintained by the City’s Economic Development and Culture (EDC) Division. The City’s collection continues to grow through commissions and donations, guided by a vision of “creativity and community, everywhere”, set out in the Toronto Public Art Strategy (2020-2030).

The City of Toronto coordinates competitions for artist submissions and community consultation, assembles and manages the jury or selection panel, and oversees all aspects of the commissioning process through to the completion of the public art work.

The artist brief, call for submissions, and jury composition are devised in consultation with the City staff from relevant departments. Alternatively, an external public art consultant may be contracted, in which case municipal staff devises the request for proposals from art consultants.

Commissions are awarded through a competitive process. Competitions are adjudicated by a qualified independent selection panel with professional expertise in contemporary art and knowledge of the local context.

Artist Selection Process

Public art competitions are the City’s primary form of artist selection. Depending on requirements specific to the project, the competition may be open, limited or invitational:

  • Open – an open competition is most frequently practiced by the City. The competition is a widely publicized call for artists to submit entries; this is the process most favoured by the City and adhered to whenever project budget and timeframe allow.
  • Limited – limited competitions may be staged when a project requires a specific art form, or there are pressing time restrictions on its completion. In this instance a smaller number of artists are invited to submit their qualifications and project proposals.
  • Invitational – invitational competitions are when the commissioning body invites an artist to submit a proposal to be judged by the selection panel. The City rarely employs this form of competition.

The form of competition to be used for a particular project is determined by the City staff.

Selection Panels

An independent selection panel is convened for each public art commission under the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction.

These selection panels select short-listed and winning artists, measuring the artist’s proposal and past work against the general goals of the Toronto Public Art Strategy (2020-2030) and the specific objectives of the project at hand.

Qualified selection panels are comprised of:

  • Three recognised visual arts professionals and two representatives of the community with interests in the site.
  • One of the art professionals is also a member of the local community.
  • Visual arts professionals may include artists, curators, art educators, visual art administrators, art historians, architects and landscape architects.
  • Art dealers are not allowed to participate on selection panels.

The City of Toronto’s Public Art and Monuments Donation Policy aims to ensure that all donated artworks that are accepted and installed in Toronto’s public realm demonstrate outstanding aesthetic values, meet technical criteria that ensure safety and sustainability, demonstrate clear relationships to the City, Ontario, and/or Canada and are appropriate to the surroundings where the work will be located.

Learn more about guidelines for donating a work of public art or a monument to the City of Toronto. Please contact Ben Macintosh, Acting Manager of Cultural Partnerships, at Ben.Macintosh@toronto.ca to discuss a donation proposal.

An art collection exhibited outdoors requires ongoing maintenance due to exposure to harsh weather conditions, vandalism and pollution.

Toronto Culture is committed to maintaining its outdoor Art and Monuments collection. Under the direction of the division’s Public Art Conservator, works from the collection are cleaned and conserved as required.