STEPS believes public art has the ability to challenge the systemic inequities that exist in public space and artists have a critical role to play in shaping cities and communities. The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is a national program for emerging Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and racialized artists to build and advance their public art practices. Public art should reflect the diverse identities and perspectives of the communities that host it, and the CreateSpace Public Art Residency is designed for artist capacity building and community collaboration to foster more equitable public spaces.
First launched in 2020 through a national Call for Artists with 100+ applications, the first residency cohort from across provinces began their projects in 2021. The residency runs approximately from March until December of each year with free public programming and artist talks for the public.
Designed in collaboration with advisors from coast to coast, ten artists-in-residence are selected and provided opportunities to build the skills, relationships and practical experiences needed in the field of public art throughout the course of this virtual artist capacity building program. The artists will create unique and inspiring public artwork in their respective communities with the support of multidisciplinary artistic mentors, virtual workshops and peer mentorship.
2022 Residency Cohort
2022 CreateSpace Mentors
2022 Advisory Committee and Selection Panel
2021 Residency Cohort
Visit the 2021 CreateSpace Public Art Residency to learn more about the inaugural national launch of the program, mentors and advisory committee.
As part of CreateSpace, free panel discussions and artist talks will be presented throughout the year. Register to upcoming events and check back for recordings that will be made available shortly after the event has ended.
STEPS is committed to the community’s full participation in events. Please contact us if you have any questions or requests, and we will do our best to accommodate.
Call for Artists
Are you, or an artist you know, interested in gaining experience, building networks and professional skills needed to launch or expand a public art practice? The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is an artist capacity building program open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space, who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and/or racialized, interested in participating in a virtual residency from March through December.
Up to ten artists will be selected for this opportunity by a review panel composed of members of the arts community who identify as Black, Indigenous and/or racialized. Program components will be offered primarily in English, with translation and ASL services available as needed to support participation of a diverse community of artists.
The 2022 residency is currently in session. For the latest CreateSpace Call for Artists, subscribe to the STEPS Newsletter, follow us on social media (@STEPSPublicArt) and visit STEPS News to be notified of the next application round.
Support Artist Capacity Building Initiatives
Artists have a critical role to play in shaping cities, and our Artist Capacity Building Programs are designed to amplify the work of Black, Indigenous, Persons of Colour, female, LGBTTQQIAAP and newcomer artists in public spaces.
In support of this important work, CreateSpace is a portfolio of STEPS programming that: foster inclusive public art practices; build the capacity of artists who are underrepresented in Canadian public art; and demonstrate the power of art to reimagine equitably designed cities.
Funders and Partners
The 2022 CreateSpace Public Art Residency is supported by the City of Toronto as part of ArtworxTO: Toronto’s Year of Public Art 2021 – 2022, TD Bank Group through the TD Ready Commitment, Canada Council for the Arts, and Ontario Arts Council. We also acknowledge the support of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation with funding provided by the Government of Canada.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is CreateSpace?
STEPS is committed to amplifying the voices of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), Black, newcomer, LGBTQQIP2SAA+, racialized, disabled & equity-deserving artists. CreateSpace is a suite of artist capacity building programming developed by STEPS in collaboration with our national advisory network aimed at cultivating mentorship, training and paid creation opportunities for equity-deserving artists that simultaneously demonstrates the ability of public artists to reimagine equitably designed cities.
The CreateSpace Public Art Residency aims to connect emerging and mid-career artists across the country who are interested in exploring and activating public space in their communities; fostering connections and cultivating conversations around social equity in city-building and design while also inspiring broader dialogue on equitable representation in public art. The residency was launched in 2021 as a signature program of our CreateSpace offerings.
Other CreateSpace programming has included public events, such as Art in Alternative Spaces, Access as a Creative Catalyst, New Media as a Tool for Placemaking (and more!), as well as the CreateSpace Public Art Forum, a program connecting emerging artists (ages 18-25) interested in building or expanding their public art practice from across Canada.
Who has been involved in shaping the CreateSpace Public Art Residency?
This program has been designed in collaboration with a national advisory network and programming has been delivered in collaboration with cultural leaders and institutions from coast to coast. Some of our outreach and program delivery partners to date have included: Arts Accessibility Network Manitoba; ArtsBC; ArtsBuild Ontario; Arts Fund Yukon; Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada; Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Ontario; Klondike Institute of Art and Culture; MAWA, MU Montreal; National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC); NIA Centre for the Arts; and Neighborhood Arts Network.
Special thanks to the following contributors:
- Advisors: Sidi Chen, Jamaias DaCosta, Queen Kukoyi, Sean Lee, Tash Naveau, Charles Smith, Jennifer Smith and Nico Taylor
- Artistic Mentors: Aliza Zorlutuna, Andre Kan, Golboo Amani, Hiba Abdallah, Javid Alibhai, Quentin VerCetty Lindsay, Yen Linh Thai and Zongwe Binesikwe
- Programming Collaborators: Adriana Alarcon, Meagan Byrne, Yvette Cenerini, Michel Dumont, Alica Hall, Bracken Hanuse-Corlett Franchesca Hebert-Spence, Samar Hejazi, Ammar Mahimwalla, Bruce Naokwegijig, Philip Ocampo, PUFF Paddy, Winnie Truong, Florence Yee, Yung Yemi and Bo Yeung
Finally, the reflections shared by participating artists from the inaugural 2021 CreateSpace Public Art Residency have been invaluable in shaping the program.
What will CreateSpace Public Art Residency participating artists gain?
CreateSpace participating artists will gain:
- Skills: Virtual workshops, artist talks and studio visits for greater understanding of the public art process through the lens of Community, Identity, Accessibility, and Land, including: demystifying public art RFPs, exploring fabrication and approaches to public engagement.
- Relationships: Opportunities to connect with public art practitioners from across the country, cultivating professional networks in various sectors and industries.
Practical Experience: Creating new public art work with tailored coaching from STEPS staff and artistic advisors, through which experimentation is encouraged.
- Public Audiences: Through promotional support leveraging STEPS and partner network, as well as supports to document and present past and current public work.
- Financial Support: Artists will each receive individual support valued at $3500, inclusive of a $1500 participation stipend as well as production, documentation, engagement and accessibility supports.
What are some of the expectations from participating artists?
The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is a project-oriented program, so participating artists will focus their efforts on the production of a public artwork in their community during the program. CreateSpace is also focused on network building and education, so artists-in-residents will be required to attend at least 10 virtual residency sessions over the course of ten (10) months, including: workshops, artist talks, facilitated discussions, studio visits, etc.
Participating artists, with the support of STEPS staff and program mentors, are expected to:
- Attend at least 10 of approximately 15 residency sessions held over 10 months which will include: Workshops, artist talks, facilitated discussions, studio visits, etc. We estimate each session to be an hour to an hour and a half time commitment per session. These sessions will run primarily between 1pm and 8pm EST, Monday through Saturdays.
- Identify and execute a public art project by the end of the residency.
- While participating artists are NOT expected to have well thought out plans for a public art project at the time of their application, having a project concept and clearly defined learning objectives for advancing your public art practice are important to make the most of the support that STEPS and CreateSpace partners can provide.
- Participate in ongoing program evaluation that will help shape the CreateSpace Public Art Residency and other artist capacity building programming.
- Respect the time and knowledge of CreateSpace advisors, mentors, staff and fellow participating artists, by committing to cultivate a safe, inclusive, supportive and respectful space for learning, exploration and growth.
What are the key program dates?
The 2022 residency program dates:
- Deadline to request accommodations (for application process): Monday, January 17, 2022
- Application Deadline: Monday, January 31, 2022 at 11:59 PM PST
- Selected Artists Announced: March 2022
- Residency Programming: March – December 2022
- Facilitated Sessions: March – November 2022
- Public Artwork Production and Installation Period: June – September 2022
- Documentation & Audience Development: June – November 2022
- Program Reflection & Wrap: December 2022
Is this a paid opportunity?
Participating artists will each receive individual support valued at $3500, inclusive of a $1500 participation stipend as well as production, documentation, engagement and accessibility support.
How will applications be assessed?
Residency spots will be awarded on a competitive basis by a review committee of Black, Indigenous and racialized public art practitioners from across Canada. Review committee members have been selected on the basis of their familiarity with a broad spectrum of public art practices, specialized expertise, fair-mindedness, and regional representation. The committee will assess applications based on: clarity of learning objectives and/or public art project concept; alignment with needs and residency supports; and merit of applicant’s arts practice.
How long is a CreateSpace Public Art Residency term?
The CreateSpace Public Art Residency term is 10 months total, taking place from March to December.
What types of facilitated sessions does the Residency offer?
While these sessions will in part be finalized after participating artists are selected to ensure that they reflect the needs and interests of the program cohort, we anticipate that they will include a combination of artist capacity building workshops, artist talks, studio visits, artist-led panel discussions and industry connectivity opportunities that enable artists to connect with public art practitioners and each other on a variety of topics relevant to public art.
Examples of past sessions include presentations from Toronto fabricators Eventscape, the Edmonton Public Art Department, the TD Bank Group Curatorial Team, and more.
What is the production period mentioned in the call for artists?
The timeline for the residency’s production period runs typically from June to September. During this time, CreateSpace participating artists will work with mentors and STEPS staff to further develop their concepts, installation plans and engagement strategy, while independently fabricating their public artworks. The production period will culminate in the installation of a temporary public artwork within the artists’ community and involve an unveiling (if applicable) and documentation. During the production period, artists will also meet monthly as a cohort to explore themes and issues related to public art and their individual career paths through various programming opportunities.
Will artists be responsible for identifying their public artwork’s installation site?
Yes. Participating artists will be asked to identify potential sites for their works to be installed. STEPS staff and mentors will support this process and help the artist to secure the final installation site for their public artworks.
Does the public artwork created need to be permanent or temporary?
The length of the installation will depend on the installation site and its property owners among other factors, but participating artists will be encouraged to produce temporary public artworks during the respective CreateSpace Public Art Residency term.
What if I need to leave the residency early? Can I apply for a shorter/longer residency?
Unfortunately, the CreateSpace Public Art Residency requires a ten (10) month time commitment (March to December) from participating artists, with no opportunity to delay or extend your participation in the program.
How does the “virtual residency format” work?
Participating artists will be required to attend monthly virtual group cohort gatherings, one-on-one check-ins with the program coordinator, and meet with their mentors to develop their individual public artworks and identify areas of additional support. CreateSpace participating artists will need to have access to a strong internet connection and an internet-connected device (i.e. computer, tablet, smartphone, etc.) to participate in this residency.
If you are unsure about your ability to participate in this program due to your current tech set up, please contact the program coordinator.
I have a full time job - can I still be a resident artist?
Yes. Resident artists often have full or part-time jobs to support their studio practice. Ultimately, you want to make sure your schedule supports you getting the most out of this residency.
If I have already applied to other artist residencies or if I plan on travelling over the next 12 months, can I also apply to this program?
Yes. However, if you think your other residencies or travels would keep you away for extended periods of time or affect your active participation in CreateSpace, you might want to reconsider if this program is the best fit for you at this time.
Could you clarify the accessibility timeline for additional accessibility support for this application process?
Applicants who are Deaf, have a disability, or who need support applying for this opportunity are encouraged to contact the program coordinator at least two weeks before the application deadline to allow STEPS to appropriately accommodate your needs and to discuss alternate formats for submitting your application.
What accessibility support will be available to participating artists throughout the program?
STEPS will provide ASL Interpretation, closed captioning and language translation with ample notice.
Are there any material restrictions?
The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is facilitated virtually so it will be up to individual participating artists to identify what materials can or cannot be used in their workspace. If you are renting a studio space in your area, we recommend checking your studio’s health and safety guide for further details. If you’re unsure about any materials, please contact the program coordinator.
What types of disciplines are appropriate for this residency?
All artistic disciplines are appropriate for this residency, from 2D media like drawing and painting to installation and sculpture to performance and new technologies.
When are applications open?
Applications typically open in late fall of each year.
When are applications closed?
The 2022 residency is currently in session and applications are closed. Check back for the next call for artists!
Are applications open to international artists?
No, unfortunately the CreateSpace Public Art Residency is only open to Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space, who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and/or racialized.
What do you consider an “emerging public artist” to be?
To us at STEPS, the question of whether or not one is considered “emerging” is addressed in terms of an artist’s own personal practice, which is unique to each individual. This term does not necessarily reflect one’s age or level of recognition they may have achieved outside of their “public art practice.” We ask applicants to self-identify.
I’m a mid-career or established artist. Should I still apply?
Yes! The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space. For example, if you already have an established studio practice but have had little to no experience with public art, this opportunity is open to you.
How does STEPS define public art?
Public art is art in any media whose form, function and meaning are created for the general public, is publicly accessible and aims to engage and/or reflect the local community, general public or surrounding area.
Can I get feedback on my application if my application is unsuccessful?
No. Unfortunately, due to a high volume of applications, we will not be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.
How does the review process work?
Applicants are evaluated by a selection committee composed of practicing public artists and cultural sector leaders. CreateSpace participating artists will be selected based on the quality of their work, commitment to their practice, and the applicant’s expressed interest in being part of a national community of practicing artists who look to explore public space.
Who are the members of the selection committee for this residency?
While the list of selection committee members will not be announced prior to the selection of artists-in-residence, members are made up of five Canada-based individuals, from arts professionals, leaders of equity-seeking arts organizations, organizations serving Black, Indigenous or communities of colour, as well as practicing artists with extensive experience with residencies or public art.
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