BIPOC Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm

Application Deadline: November 16, 2020, at 11:59 PM EST

Artist Fee: $2,000

Download Full Call Here:


In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate effects on individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), the Office of Public Art (OPA) is launching a new call for artists titled BIPOC Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm (BABSD). BABSD will commission three BIPOC artists to produce projects that respond to the current crisis and propose new approaches to bridging social distance. Each selected artist will receive $2,000 to implement their project. Artists will be selected in December and projects are anticipated to be launched in January 2021.

Overview & Background

OPA is seeking proposals from visual and performing artists or artist teams who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color for projects that seek to bridge social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed projects should promote social connection while also following guidelines for public health and safety. Projects in all media and disciplines will be considered (including digital, analog, and event-based) but must be widely shareable, whether through digital and virtual platforms or other means. Three proposals will be selected; each selected artist will receive $2,000 to implement their project.

The BABSD call for artists expands upon OPA’s Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm (ABSD) Initiative. This initiative was launched in March 2020 to support artists at a time of critical need, when social distancing was causing widespread isolation and creative projects were being canceled or indefinitely postponed. Data reported since then has made it clear that Black and Indigenous communities and communities of color are among those at greatest risk, from both the virus itself and the impacts of the social distancing required to control its spread.

Civil rights protests against police brutality, the continued and traumatic murder of Black people, and waves of xenophobia against people of Asian American descent have only intensified the need to amplify the voices of artists from these communities and more. The arts and the creative practices of artists are some of our most powerful tools in shaping our responses and addressing the vast needs that have been exposed. When faced with earth-shifting events such as these, art can build community and increase social connection.

With this in mind, the BABSD program seeks to engage artists working in the public realm who are part of the communities most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically Black and Indigenous artists and artists of color, and including those who identify as Latinx and  Asian American. The BABSD program will further ask artists to propose projects that will engage the communities of which they are a part.


The three selected projects will unfold over the course of January and February 2021 and should accomplish one or more of the following among the communities in Southwestern Pennsylvania most adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Build social connection;
  • Bridge physical distance;
  • Increase the well-being; and/or
  • Provide new avenues for engagement.


This opportunity is open to visual and performing artists in Southwestern Pennsylvania who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and who have a creative proposal for bridging social distance in a community with which they identify. Artists will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Creative project proposal that demonstrates engagement in the goals of the project;
  • Artist statement, body of work, and/or process that demonstrates interest in the goals of the project;
  • Prior work experience engaging or collaborating with the community with which they identify;
  • Prior work that shows a strong, consistent, and clear artistic voice;
  • Demonstrated ability to execute creative concepts; and
  • Completeness of application materials.

Selection Process

Projects will be reviewed and selected by a panel of BIPOC arts professionals and community members. Artists may be invited to interview or address follow-up questions from the panel.

Project Fee

Each selected artist will be paid a fee of $2,000 to finalize and implement their project, including all material costs.


This RFP is for projects proposed in October 2020 with an anticipated launch date of January 2021. Project goals will be revisited prior to each RFQ being released and will be responsive to the ways in which the pandemic has evolved.

  • Call For Proposals Released: October 19, 2020
  • Online Information Session: October 27, 2020 at 4PM EST via Zoom Webinar. Participants must register in advance by going to This presentation will be recorded and available for review online.
  • Applications Due: November 16, 2020, at 11:59 PM
  • Artist Selection: December 9-16, 2020
  • Artists Notified: December 17-18, 2020
  • Implementation Plan Draft Due: January 22, 2021
  • Project Launch: January-February 2021

This timeline is subject to change.

How To Apply

Interested artists must submit an application through Submittable using this link: Artists must supply the following information and materials in entirety for an application to be considered complete:

Artist/Artist Team Information:

Please provide the following:

  • Name and pronoun
  • BIPOC community(ies) with which you identify
  • Email address and phone number
  • County of residence
  • If applying as an artist team, the above information must be submitted for each team member, as well as a brief description of each member's role on the team.

Artist Bio and Statement (200 words max)

A brief artist bio and description of your artistic practice. Artist teams may submit a group bio and statement, or individual artist bios and statements (up to three statements total).

Past Work Samples (JPG, MP4, AVI, MOV, or WMV files only)

Up to six (6) images and/or video samples, total. If applying as a team, it is recommended that you submit samples of artwork that was created collaboratively by the team. If you have not worked together previously, we recommend including at least one independent work sample from each team member. Please be sure to specify the author of the work in the description field for each work sample.

Images should be in JPG format. Video sample links to third-party video hosting sites (Youtube, Vimeo) are preferred, but video files in MP4, AVI, MOV, or WMV format will be accepted. Video samples must be no longer than 3 minutes.

Work Sample Descriptions

Within the application form, you will be prompted to enter descriptive information for each work sample, including the title, medium, dimensions, year, and a brief (50 word max) description of each, if critical contextual information is not evident in the work sample.


Your proposal will be comprised of your responses to the following:

THE PROJECT (300 words)

Describe your proposed project and how it addresses the challenges your community faces in a time of social distancing. How will your proposed project build social connection, bridge physical distance, and/or mitigate the isolating impacts of social distancing within the BIPOC community(ies) with which you identify? How will your proposed project provide new avenues for engagement for or increase the well-being of the members of the BIPOC community(ies) with which you identify?


How will members of your community learn about your project? Considering issues of equity, how might people without internet access engage with or learn about your project? In what ways do you define public access, and why are access and social relationships important to you and your practice?

PROJECT NEEDS (150 words)

How will your participation in the BABSD Program support the realization of your project? What are the most critical project needs that the BABSD program will fill?

Resume (Three pages max. PDF files only)

Please include only relevant experience within the past 5 years, three pages maximum. If applying as an artist team, please include a resume for each team member (up to three files total). Please label file(s) using the following convention: LastName_FirstName_Resume


All submissions must be received by November 16, 2020, at 11:59pm EST. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Artist Information Session

OPA will host a virtual information session about this opportunity via Zoom Webinar on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 from 4-5 PM EST. At this session, the OPA staff will discuss the application process and respond to questions.

Participants must register in advance by going to You will be provided with a link to access the Webinar following your registration. This presentation will be recorded and available for review online. Artists are not required to attend this session in order to submit an application.


For questions about this opportunity and/or the application process, please contact Derek Reese of the Office of Public Art at

About the Office of Public Art

The Office of Public Art (OPA) envisions a region in which the creative practices of artists are fully engaged to collaboratively shape the public realm and catalyze community-led change. OPA builds capacity for this work through technical assistance, public programming, artist resources, and civically engaged public art projects. Located at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council, OPA serves the thirteen county region of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

This program is generously funded through the Investing in Professional Artists program of The Pittsburgh Foundation, The Heinz Endowments, and Opportunity Fund