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).
Public art commissions are always awarded through a competitive process. The City of Toronto’s Public Art staff manage each competition, including creating the call for artist submissions, assembling a selection panel and proposal evaluation documents, hosting community consultations, and overseeing all aspects of the commissioning process through to the completion of the public artwork.
Most public art opportunities are tied to capital projects, and the Public Art staff work with the relevant City departments and stakeholders to determine the parameters for the project. These parameters will form the call for artists, artwork qualifications, and jury composition. Ongoing artist opportunities can be found on the Public Art Competitions page.
Occasionally, external public art consultants may be contracted to work alongside City staff on a specific project. Each competition is adjudicated by a unique and independent selection panel with professional expertise in contemporary art and knowledge of the local context.
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:
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 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 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.
External selection panels are convened for each unique public art commission under the City of Toronto’s jurisdiction.
These selection panels are responsible for selecting shortlisted 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 recognized visual arts professionals and two representatives of the community with interests in the site. Juries and advisory committees are reflective of the diversity of the arts sector, and the population of the City of Toronto. Members of the jury must disclose any conflicts of interest.
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, 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.