Review, selection, and recommendation process for city of Thornton public art.


Public Art Mission 

To build a diverse and engaging collection of public art that is specific to Thornton and informed by the community. The artwork will establish Thornton as an innovative and exciting destination city, engaged in contemporary and timely conversations on art and culture.


Commission Process Objective 

A holistic and transparent process for the Public Art Subcommittee to make well-informed public art recommendations to the Thornton Arts, Sciences & Humanities Council (TASHCO) and then to Thornton City Council.

Artists interested in applying to a Thornton public art project call for artists are encouraged to read the information below to better understand the goals and process for city-funded public art commissions in Thornton.

Key Terms & Guiding Principles

Public Art: The term encompasses a wide range of meanings, perspectives, and work. Public art may include physical objects, performances, events, and other happenings. Public art can exist for varied lengths of time and can include permanent, monumental work or more fluid and adaptable, temporary works. Ideally, public art should have numerous functions including civic dialogue, community building, and economic development, connecting artists to the community and encouraging public appreciation for the arts. 

Culture: Culture is an umbrella term for the characteristics and knowledge of people, both regionally and globally. The term culture may encompass language, fashion, ideologies, cuisine, social habits/practices, music, dance and visual arts. No culture is fixed or monolithic as they are constantly evolving and changing with every new generation of people. 

Transparency: Transparency is the process of being open, honest, and straightforward about all operations regarding the public art process. Transparency allows the committee to share information to the public relating to all processes which may include budget, sourcing, selection, installation, etc.  

Inclusion: Inclusion is the process of actively involving everyone’s ideas, knowledge, perspectives, approaches, and styles to maximize success. This process creates accessible and safe spaces for people regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, socio-economic status, gender, age, military status, sexual orientation, marital status, and/or physical or mental disability.  

Diversity: Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. It encompasses a climate of equity and mutual respect that not only embraces, but celebrates the rich dimensions contained within individuals. Diversity is a set of conscious practices that involve:

  • Practicing authentic, mutual respect for qualities and experiences that are different from our own.

  • Understanding that diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing.

  • Recognizing that personal, cultural, and institutionalized discrimination creates and sustains privileges for some while creating and sustaining disadvantages for others.

  • Building equitable partnerships and alliances across differences so that we can work together toward common goals and visions. 

Key Roles

Stakeholders: This may include public, institutional, investor, and art form stakeholders. All are necessary for continued growth and support of arts and culture in Thornton. 

  • Public Stakeholders: Groups of people and organizations that are beneficiaries of projects such as residents, students, community representatives, and other audiences influenced by the existence of public art.

  • Institutional Stakeholders: Organizations (such as TASHCO), businesses, agencies and institutions that benefit from having the arts organization remain strong and healthy in order to support their constituents. 

  • Investor Stakeholders: Individuals and organizations who provide financial support in order to further arts and culture. These can include individual donors, corporate supporters, philanthropic foundations, and government funders.

  • Art Form Stakeholders:  Individual artists whose livelihoods depend on the support and growth of the arts, .e.g., artists of all genres and practices who are essential in fulfilling commitments to public and institutional stakeholders.

Community Members: Also known as “intentional communities." These are groups of people within Thornton we intentionally choose to serve and who are not yet stakeholders. Through development of cultural competency and a two-way exchange of values, we can authentically and respectfully engage with intentional communities. These relationships may blossom into vital stakeholder relationships as public art projects and impact grow.

City Staff: Those employed by the city of Thornton working to ensure the completion of approved public art projects. This may include several departments outside of Arts & Culture staff such as Contracts, Legal, Purchasing, Parks & Open Space, Planning and Infrastructure.


Review & Selection Process

This process is split into several rounds and may take many hours and up to six months to complete. Community review panel members donate their time to score each applicant and narrow down their selection to one artist/team that can meet the scope of the project. 

Round 1: Preliminary Online Review (four+ hours)

The panel (consisting of stakeholders and community members) will review a portfolio of artists' recent works. Applicants are encouraged to submit anywhere from 3–15 pieces of work (depending on the project) that highlight their diverse skills and experience. Artists may also be asked to answer supplemental questions on their process and creative motivation/direction. Artists are not required to submit concept designs, but can choose to include them in this first review. Artist who do not submit concepts for the project will not be penalized. Each applicant will be scored based on their overall body of work, skill, creativity, and ability to meet the scope of the project. Each applicant was scored on a scale of 1 to 7. Applicants who receive a qualifying score move to Round 2. 

Round 2: Semifinalist Deliberation (four hours)

The panel meets via Zoom to discuss top scores and advocate for their favorite applicants. Up to three semifinalists may be identified for a project. Panel members will make a motion and approve semifinalists. Semifinalists will be given a modest stipend to create a site-specific proposal. Artists will be invited to present their proposals to the panel via Zoom at a future date. These presentations give semifinalists an opportunity to address any questions or concerns before the panel casts their final votes. NOTE: The panel may also choose to reopen the RFQ or call for artists at this stage of the process if they feel no applicant is able to meet the scope of the project and/or the subcommittee's public art mission. 

Round 3: Design Presentations (four hours)

Each semifinalist is issued a modest stipend to produce a well-researched, site-specific design proposal. Semifinalists are given anywhere from 30 to 60 days to produce their designs in addition to the following:

  • Artist statement and project narrative
  • Final design concept for project location
  • 3D rendering and/or images of final piece in a physical space to understand scale and impact
  • Itemized budget including insurance, installation, foundational, subcontractor and travel costs
  • Preferred payment schedule
  • Production/fabrication schedule
  • Implementation/installation schedule
  • Materials list including supplier information
  • Warranty information (if available)
  • Maintenance information including procedures, timelines and future estimated city costs (if available)

Round 4: Final Deliberation (two hours)

After each artist has presented their proposal, the panel will discuss and review each design using the following criteria:

  • Artistic quality
  • Project goals and feasibility
  • Project timeline and support
  • Community engagement component
  • Overall presentation    

Panel members will then cast their final votes. The artist with the majority vote will continue to the recommendation and final approval process.

Recommendations & Final Approval 

This two-step process begins once a project finalist has been identified based on the panel's majority vote. The first step is for the Public Art Subcommittee to present their finalist recommendation to the TASHCO board for approval. If approved, the second step is for TASHCO to present the finalist recommendation to Thornton City Council which may request additional information to support the finalist and project concept recommended or approve both as presented. No project is officially awarded without final approval from Thornton City Council. After getting this approval, the artist awarded the public art project will begin the process of entering into contracts and purchasing agreements with the city to complete the project in a specified period of time. Any major changes to the original approved project concept or artist will require another TASHCO presentation to Thornton City Council for review and approval.

Community Involvement
Projects Currently in Progress
Artist Opportunities & Resources