Frequently Asked Questions
Do you have a slide registry?
The Wisconsin Arts Board’s Percent for Art Program does not maintain a slide registry. Calls to Artists or a Prospectus for an individual project are posted on the Arts Board’s website as they become available.
How do I get started in Percent for Art?
Because we recognize that it can be difficult to obtain commissions without having an existing track record in public art, we are currently offering a Mentorship Program for Wisconsin artists interested in working in the Percent for Art Program. Interested emerging artists apply to be included in a roster of Wisconsin mentee artists biannually. Smaller commission projects select artists from this roster and the 1-3 semi-finalists are assigned a mentor, an experienced artist, who works with them during the proposal preparation stage. Once a mentee is selected for the commission, the mentor continues to work with the mentee artist through the production and installation stages. To receive notice of mentee roster openings, add your name and email address to our mailing list by clicking here.
I am a painter—how do I get a commission?
If you work in painting, photography, print-making, quilts, or other two dimensional media, you may wish to submit an application for the Direct Purchase Program which purchases existing artwork from Wisconsin artists. Commission selection committees rarely are interested in painted murals or other two dimensional artwork and prefer to commission sculptural works of art or larger scale relief work. Commission projects may seek art that includes but is not limited to the following media: mosaics, stained or etched glass, stone, wood, metal sculptures, ceramics, and light. For some projects, architecturally integrated artwork is sought and the selection committee reviews a pre-screened roster of Midwestern artists with experience in this more complicated process.
Can I submit slides?
Since 2006, the Wisconsin Arts Board’s Percent for Art Program has not acccepted 35mm slides (analog images) as part of application materials. We will only accept digital images uploaded to the online application. Click here for more information on digital image requirements.
I have an idea for a public art project-can you fund it?
Funding for the Percent for Art Program is tied to specific state construction projects. If you are interested in funding an artist-initiated public art project, you are encouraged to contact your local arts council or Karen Goeschko at the Wisconsin Arts Board to learn about funding for community development projects. The Percent for Art Program is unable to fund artist-initiated public art projects.
How can I be informed of upcoming Percent for Art Opportunities?
Due to the dual forces of changing technologies and ongoing budget cuts, the Wisconsin Arts Board announces all artist opportunities on its website. To receive email announcements with Percent for Art opportunities, click here and complete the form, indicating whether you wish to be notified about the Direct Purchase, Mentorship or Commissions Programs.
Do I need special insurance to work in public art?
Yes, as a professional artist working in the public realm, you will need commercial liability insurance. This is different than homeowners liability insurance. Commercial liability insurance is necessary to protect you and your personal assets in today’s litigious society. The State of Wisconsin requires all artists to provide proof of a 1 million commercial liability insurance policy when a commission contract is signed.
Tips on Applying for Commissions
How the Commission Process Works
Each Percent for Art commission is tied to a specific construction or renovation project at a state agency. Commissions are awarded on the recommendation of a selection committee composed of arts professionals, representatives of the agency where the artwork will be located, the project manager and the architect. The selection committee meets to determine the parameters of the project, and this information is outlined in the prospectus. After artists submit materials online in response to the prospectus, the committee reviews these materials and selects 3 semi-finalists, who are invited for a site visit and interview with the committee. (Travel expenses for this visit are reimbursed.) The committee may then ask one or all of these artists to submit a specific design proposal for the site, including a scale model, materials samples, and a budget. Artists who submit design proposals are paid a design fee. The committee then selects one artist to recommend for the commission. The selected artist completes the commission, in consultation with the project manager and the architect wherever necessary.
Before You Start
- Not all projects are appropriate for every artist. Read about each project in the prospectus carefully and decide whether it’s worth your time to apply. Some selection committees are looking for specific media, styles, and/or themes.
- Notice the timeline for the project. Will you be available based on your workload or vacations?
- If you haven’t completed permanent public art projects in the past, your chances of being selected are slim. Your local arts agency may be able to help you find or create smaller local projects to build your resume You may also wish to consider participating in the Percent for Art Mentorship Program for emerging artists. For information on the Mentorship Program, click here.
On the Practical Side
- Check the application deadline and make sure you submit the application on time.
- Upload your images correctly (unless you want them shown sideways or in the wrong order). Make sure you include the required image identification information for each.
To Make Your Application the Best it Can Be
- Make sure your images are of high quality (click here for tips on taking quality images). They are the number one tool the committee will use to select an artist. If the committee doesn't like your images, the rest of your materials won’t matter.
- Upload a current resume, and be brief and concise (no more than three pages). Do not submit a curriculum vita. The selection committee just wants to know that you have a proven track record as a public artist.
- Spend some time on your letter of interest. This is where you get to express your intent and personality to the committee. You might discuss what aspects of the project are most interesting to you along with possible approaches. Show the committee you can handle the commission with skill, vision, flexibility and professionalism.
Just because one committee doesn't select you for a commission doesn't mean there’s anything wrong with your work. Each committee is looking for something different.
If you want feedback about your application materials, or information about why your work wasn't chosen for a particular project, call us and ask. Please be aware that images are voted “in or out” in the first elimination round without discussion so the quality and content of your images are very important.