Office of Public Art 

Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm

Request for Proposals 

Deadline: Monday, April 20, 11:59pm

Download Full PDF Here 


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Public Art is launching a new initiative, titled Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm. The initiative will commission up to three artists to produce projects that respond to the current crisis and propose new approaches to bridging social distance. Each selected artist will receive $1,500 to implement their project. Artists will be selected in late April, and projects are anticipated to be launched in late May 2020. 


The Office of Public Art (OPA) is seeking proposals from visual and performing artists for projects that seek to bridge the social distance created by efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Proposed projects should promote social connection while also following guidelines for public health and safety from state and local government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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 an artist fee of $1,500 to implement their project. 

The Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm initiative is a response to the social distancing practices necessary to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing has made marked impacts on daily routines, cultural practices, and ways of life, and is causing widespread isolation within our communities. OPA believes that art can build community and increase social connection, and that human creative expression can be transformative. In the face of social distancing practices that prevent gatherings in the public realm, we seek proposals for projects that will bridge social distance, increase a sense of community well-being, and provide avenues for intellectual and emotional engagement.

The three selected projects will unfold over the course of May and June and should explore the continued relevance of building social connection among people separated by physical separation or distance. Once selected, artists will be asked to consider the following in developing their implementation plan for their project:

  • Artists will be asked to propose a strategy, informed by OPA’s social media guidelines, for publicizing their creative process from within social isolation. How might the publicizing of the creative process in and of itself help to build social connection? 
  • Artists will be asked to think critically about their target audience(s). What strategy or strategies will be used to reach the target audience(s)? Might there be more than one way for audiences to access the project? 
  • Artists will be asked to consider how their project will address access limitations. What challenges may there be in building equitable access to the project when many members of the public lack a regular or reliable internet connection? In what ways might people without internet access engage with or learn about the project?


This opportunity is open to any visual and performing artists in Southwestern Pennsylvania interested in developing a creative project that seeks to bridge the social distance created by efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. Artists will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • Quality and creativity of a project proposal that addresses the need for promoting social connection and bridging the isolation caused by social distancing practices;
  • Aesthetic and experiential quality of previous work;
  • Experience working collaboratively;
  • Experience reaching audiences outside traditional art settings and/or sharing work broadly across multiple platforms; and 
  • Quality and completeness of application materials.


  • Call For Proposals Released: Monday, March 30
  • Online Information Session: Monday, April 13, 2020 from 4 - 5 PM via Zoom meeting: Meeting ID: 117 072 124. This presentation will be recorded and available for review online.  
  • Applications Due: Monday, April 20, 11:59pm
  • Artist Selection: week of April 27, 2020
  • Artists Notified: Monday, May 4
  • Implementation Draft Due:  Friday, May 22 
  • Project Launch: Late May - Early June (date to be determined in collaboration with each artist). 

This timeline is subject to change.


Each selected artist will be paid a fee of $1,500 to finalize and implement their project, including all material costs.

How To Apply

Interested artists must submit an application using the online form below. Artists must supply the following materials in entirety for an application to be considered complete:  

Artist Bio and Statement (200 words max. DOC or DOCX files only)

A brief artist bio and description of your artist practice. Please label this file using the following convention: LastName_FirstName_Statement

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

Up to six (6) images and/or video samples, total. 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. Please label each file using the following convention: LastName_FirstName_1

Work Sample Script (DOC or DOCX files only)

A document that provides a list of the work samples submitted, and a brief (50 words max), description for each if critical contextual information is not evident in the work samples. Please use the following format when writing the script

  1. First and last name, work title, materials used, dimensions, date 

A brief description of the work sample should go here, if necessary. 

Please label this file using the following convention: LastName_FirstName_Script 


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

THE PROJECT (250 words)

Describe your proposed project and how it addresses the challenges we face in a time of social distancing. How do you envision your project will build a sense of community and/or mitigate the isolating impacts of social distancing practices? How might this project be relevant beyond the end of the threat of the coronavirus? 

AUDIENCE(S) (150 words)

Who is your target audience(s)? What is your strategy to reach these audiences? Considering issues of equity, how might people without internet access engage with or learn about your project?


Describe a past  project that you broadly and/or successfully shared in the public realm. In what ways do you define public access, and why are access and social relationships important to you and your practice? 

Resume (Three pages max. PDF files only)

Please include only relevant experience within the past 5 years, three pages maximum. Please label this file using the following convention: LastName_FirstName_Resume 

All submissions must be received by Monday, April 20, 11:59pm. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed. Questions may be sent to