Public Art Commissions

The Public Art Commission program will remain paused for 2021-22, as the AFA continues to analyze the 2020-21 scheduled review of this program and next steps. Learn more about the review.

Application Deadline
October 1, 2019

Who can apply

To be eligible for this funding, applicants must be one of the following:

  • a not-for-profit organization 
  • library boards
  • Indian Bands as defined by the Indian Act R.S.C. 1985, C.1-5
  • Métis Settlements recognized under the Métis Settlements Act R.S.A. 2000, C.M14
  • post-secondary institutions established in Alberta and recognized by Alberta Advanced Education and Technology

Organizations must also:

  • be registered and in good standing in Alberta under the appropriate legislation for at least one year prior to the deadline
  • have been in operation for at least one full year prior to the deadline
  • have at least 50% of the organization’s board members, or ruling council, living in Alberta
  • demonstrate adherence to good governance principles, efficient administration practices and commitment to fiscal responsibility 
  • have the legal right to place artwork at the proposed location

Previous grant recipients must have met reporting requirements in order to be eligible to receive funding.

Ineligible organizations

Ineligible organizations are:

  • municipalities
  • commercial enterprises
  • schools
  • groups that are not arm’s length from municipalities, commercial enterprises or schools
  • Government of Alberta agencies, boards or commissions

What does this grant support

Eligible projects must be for the selection, design, build and installation of an original work of public art, in a public location in Alberta, created by an eligible Core artist as outlined in the AFA’s Collections Development Plan.

  • a public location must be accessible to the public for at least 1,000 hours per year

Public art commissioned by the AFA is intended to have a 10 year or more life span. Artworks are intended to remain in situ for a minimum of 10 years, unless requested by the borrower.

Eligible mediums

While general concepts and thematic elements for the site should be decided during the creation of the proposal, the specific project format, medium and design must not be decided prior to application.

Public Art mediums can include, but are not limited to: 

  • sculpture
  • installation
  • fine craft, paintings
  • drawings
  • prints
  • photography
  • multi-media/time-based media projects
  • murals
  • mosaics
  • land art/earth works
  • projects which incorporate design
  • architecture or landscape architecture
  • an edition, multiples or series of artworks may qualify provided the run is limited and consistent with professional artistic standards

Selection and awarding of an artist commission must occur after an organization’s application is received by the AFA and an agreement has been signed between the AFA and the organization.

Eligible artists for project commission

A list of shortlisted artists must be submitted to the AFA prior to final selection for review of artist eligibility:

  • artists selected must be in good standing with the AFA 

The final artist and artwork selection must comply with the AFA Collections Development Plan and be approved by the AFA before a sub-contract is signed by the organization with the artist.

Eligible expenses

Applicants may apply for up to 75% of total project expenses, to a maximum amount of $300,000.

Eligible project expenses include any combination of the following:

  • all costs associated with the creation, fabrication and installation of an original work of art
  • equipment rental costs for installation
  • site preparation
  • a portion of costs related to administration and project management of the commission to a maximum of no more than 15% of the total project budget

Applicants are expected to provide a minimum of 25% of the total project budget, covering the costs of the following, in cash or in kind, or from other matching funding:

  • administration of the commission process
  • project mangement costs
  • additional contributions to top-up the application to 25% of the total application budget

AFA contributions should be used for the creation, fabrication and installation of the artwork except for any funding advance due upon the agreement signing.

Artist selection

The approach for artist selection varies depending on the overall budget of eligible projects and type of applicant:

  • the approach used to select artists for projects with a budget under $50,000 is at the discretion of the organization
  • for projects with a budget between $50,000 and $74,999, the opportunity must be distributed by invitation when selecting artists
    • the opportunity may also be publicly posted to reach a broader pool of artists.
  • for government entities and the MASH sector, working with projects of a budget of $75,000 or greater, the organization must select artists by publicly posting the opportunity on the Alberta Purchasing Connection (as per the North West Partnership Trade Agreement)
    • the opportunity may also be distributed by invitation as an additional approach
  • for all other eligible organizations working with a budget of $75,000 or greater, the opportunity must be distributed by invitation when selecting artists
    • the opportunity may also be publicly posted to reach a broader pool of artists

Ineligible expenses

Expenses and activities that are ineligible for AFA funding include:

  • projects of an ongoing nature

How to apply

The Public Art Commission program will remain paused for 2021-22, as the AFA continues to analyze the 2020-21 scheduled review of this program and next steps. ​

We only accept applications through the Grant Administration Tracking and Evaluation (GATE) online application system. We must receive your online application through GATE no later than 11:59 pm Mountain Time on the deadline date, unless the deadline falls on a statutory holiday or a weekend when it will be extended until the next working day. Please give the system time to process your application so that we receive notification of your submission before the deadline falls. Applications received after 11:59pm of the deadline date will be considered at the next deadline.

  • applicants may submit only one application to the AFA each deadline
  • the AFA does not accept incomplete applications
  • applications must be received prior to the commencement of the project
  • projects involving more than one organization must be submitted by the primary organization applicant
  • separate organization applications will not be accepted for the same project

GATE username registration

First-time applicants will require a GATE username and password. Contact us via email to obtain your GATE login information at least five business days prior to the application deadline.

Please include:

  1. your legal name
  2. the funding opportunity to which you are applying
  3. your email address

Your GATE user name and password will be sent to the email address provided.

What to include in your application

First, complete the GATE Applicant Profile section with all required information. Follow the step by step instructions in the GATE user guide to complete an Applicant Profile.

For detailed step-by-step instructions to submit your application, please download the GATE user guide for this funding opportunity.

GATE Project Application online forms

The following must be entered into the GATE system to complete the Public Art Commission Application:

  • a listing of primary and secondary contact persons and signing authority designate for the application
    • organizations must designate one member who is the contact person for all requirements in executing the Public Art Commission Agreement (signing authority designate)
  • the organization’s registration details, including Alberta Registration number and Canadian Charitable Registration number (if applicable) and incorporation date
  • a brief project title/description (approximately 20 words)
  • the project start and end dates
  • an applicant agreement with e-signature of the signing authority designate
  • a list of all current board members, including names and titles
  • a project budget, indicating all projected expenditures and non-AFA revenues in Canadian dollars (whether in-kind or financial contributions) for the project
    • the AFA requested amount will be automatically calculated as the difference between the cost of the project and contributions from other sources
    • for three dimensional artworks, the budget should include the cost of creating maquettes


The GATE attachment section indicates that not all attachments are required for submission. This is because they are only required for certain types of projects (e.g. marketing plan for a marketing project). It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that all attachments noted in the guidelines are submitted with their application.

You’ll be required to complete and upload the following attachments:

Detailed project description

Please upload a detailed project description narrative that includes:

  • a description of all planned activities, and expected results and benefits
  • a detailed schedule of key project dates and milestones for the project
  • a listing of project leads or key persons working on the project, including:
    • a short description of their qualifications
    • a copy of their resumes (resumes should be no more than four pages)
  • a description of the suggested site where the artwork will be placed, including:
    • image(s) of the proposed site where the public art commission will be installed (if available)
    • the impact of the project on the place/community where it is situated
    • how the project enhances the public art landscape of the intended site
  • a description of how the proposed project fits within the purpose, guiding principles and definitions of the AFA collection, including: 
    • the project’s ability to align with the AFA Collection Development Plan, especially section D: the Strategy and Criteria for Collection Development
  • demonstration that the organization has the legal right to place the artwork at the site (confirmed or pending)
    • applicants leasing spaces where artwork is intended to be placed must include a description of their lease terms, and identify what support they have from their landlord

Public Art Selection Committee

A Public Art Selection Committee typically is composed of :

  • artists/art professionals
  • the project manager
  • members of the site’s user groups
  • persons qualified to ensure an artwork’s technical feasibility

Please upload an attachment that describes your Public Art Selection Committee, including:

  • a narrative of how the committee will be incorporated into the project
  • a listing of any potential candidates (tentative or confirmed) with short descriptions of their backgrounds and relationship to the applicant organization
  • the name and resume of the individual designated to chair the committee

Organizational background

Please upload the following attachments related to the applicant organization:

  • a narrative description of the performance and achievements of the applicant organization to date
  • the organization’s most recent annual report and financial statements with Balance Sheet, Statement of Revenues and Expenditures, and Statement of Cash Flows
    • the financial statement must demonstrate responsible fiscal management
  • a copy of the organization’s most recent Annual Return from Alberta’s Corporate Registry or most recent return from the Canadian Revenue agency
  • a current organizational business and/or strategic plan 
  • a listing of all partner organizations mentioned in the application and a short description of their role and purpose in the project, including:
    • a contact name
    • the nature of their industry
    • their partnership role in the project
    • for funding partners, please specify if their funding commitment is confirmed or anticipated
  • any additional support materials that may assist in the assessment process
    • these may include, but are not limited to, promotional literature, programs, or newsletters 

Applicants may be asked for additional information.

How will my application be assessed

The AFA Acquisitions Working Group, with assistance from external peers and experts, reviews all eligible Public Art Commission applications from organizations submitted, and recommends projects to the board.

The committee assesses the merit of each application both on its own terms and in relation to all other applications received for a given deadline. Assessment of a commission project is based on the following general criteria:

  • the ability of the project and the applicant organization to align with the AFA Collection Development Plan, especially section D, the Strategy and Criteria for Collection Development
  • the impact of the project on the place/community where it is situated
  • how the project enhances the public art landscape of the intended site
  • the appropriateness of the project budget, in relation to its location, and including evidence of in-kind and/or financial contributions from the applicant. Contributions from applicant organizations are strongly encouraged
  • the feasibility of the project scope and scale
  • the feasibility of the proposed timeline
  • the ability of the applicant organization to carry out the proposed project
  • the performance and achievements of the applicant organization to date

All committee recommendations are reviewed by the AFA Acquisitions Working Group and the AFA board and their decisions are final.

  • projects may be partially funded at the discretion of the review committee
  • if multiple commission sites are requested, the committee may specify which of the sites may be funded
  • funding is not assured for any project

Learn more about expert panels and how the AFA adjudicates funding requests for all programs.

When will I hear

Applicants will be notified in writing of the result of their application within six (6) months of the application deadline, and may include feedback from the Acquisitions Working Group.


Funding is intended for the purposes described in your application. By accepting funding, you agree to undertake the project as proposed in your original project description. If you require a change to your project including outcomes, location, or an extension to your final report due date, you must submit a request in writing prior to the final report due date listed in the successful notification letter. The AFA may consider a single extension per funding opportunity.

Funding recipients are responsible for informing the AFA of how funds were spent and outcomes of the project.

You must:

  • return the funding if the project cannot be completed as proposed
  • return unused portions of the funding to the AFA
  • return funds if reporting requirements are not met

Any grant recipient who does not fulfil any conditions associated with a grant will be made delinquent and ineligible for further funding from the AFA for a period of three years from the time the delinquency is resolved.

New applications will not be accepted until the previous project is completed, and the final report has been received and approved by the AFA.

Any and all artwork produced as the result of a successful Public Art Commission project remains the permanent property of the Alberta Foundation for the Arts collection.

The Alberta Foundation for the Arts must be incorporated in the overall project in an advisory capacity, and a member of the AFA Board and/or their designate will be included in the Public Art Selection Committee for the final artist and artwork commission selection.

A long-term loan agreement between the organization and the AFA will be signed upon completion of the artwork. While artworks may be site-specific, the AFA retains the right to manage the care and preservation of the work of art, in perpetuity. At a future date, the artwork may be removed from the site when and if deemed appropriate by the AFA.

The AFA will retain all materials submitted with grant applications. The AFA does not provide advances for any grant.

Funding acknowledgement

Whenever possible, you must acknowledge the AFA for financial support in any publicity prepared in relation to the project, including electronic, print or visual material.

Download versions of the AFA logo and guidelines for usage.

Failure to satisfy the AFA recognition requirements will result in the cancellation of the grant and the requirement to return all of the funding.


Any specific reporting requirements will be outlined in the final contract between successful applicants and the AFA.

Helpful resources

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