We’re renovating Mill Courtland Community Centre to better meet the community’s needs. Alongside these renovations, we’re looking for expressions of interest from artists who live and work in the Region of Waterloo to create a public art commission for the community centre.

On this page:

  1. Project background
  2. Our public art program
  3. Public art location site considerations
  4. Selection process
  5. Compensation
  6. Eligibility and submission requirements
  7. Selection and construction schedule
  8. Application
  9. Reference materials

Project background

We invite artists or artist teams to apply for consideration by a project jury in the Mill Courtland Community Centre public art competition. This is the first stage in a three-stage competition.

As part of the decision-making process, jurors will select the preferred candidates based on the expressions of interest received. We will pay short-listed artists to produce and present site-specific proposals in stage two. In stage three, we will ask for the public’s input to select one of up to three finalists chosen by the jury.

The call for Expressions of Interest (EOI) is open to established artists or artist teams based in the Region of Waterloo with experience creating public art and/or participatory artwork with the community. Jurors will give preference to submissions from artists or teams with equity-deserving representation as we strive to better reflect residents’ cultures in our public art collection.


Our public art program

Public, accessible art makes Kitchener a lively and engaging city. Our public art program is funded through a percent-for-art policy, which produces artworks specific to civic facilities and spaces. Our objectives for this program are to support communities, culture and artists, to represent a diverse community and to improve the quality of life for all residents through:

  • the integration of public art in prominent public spaces and neighbourhoods
  • facilitating a fair and informed public art selection process
  • supporting public art design standards that prioritize high quality, sustainability, inclusivity, accessibility, placekeeping and community interactivity

The Mill Courtland Community Centre (MCCC) renovation project is eligible for a public artwork through our public art policy, which allots 1% of the budget from the construction of public spaces and facilities to create new artworks. An open competition is our standard method to commission an artist or artist team to create site-specific artwork. The competition is publicly promoted, and the invitation to submit expressions of interest is open for 90 days, from March 25 until June 23, 2024.

We will host an information session at MCCC (216 Mill Street, Kitchener) and answer questions about this public art opportunity on Wednesday, April 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Please send us an email or call 519-741-2200, ext. 7424, if you have any questions about this project.


Public art location site considerations

Our goal is to collect artwork commissions that are responsive to the spaces in which they are located and to the public uses of those spaces.

We encourage artists or teams interested in submitting an EOI to visit MCCC and learn about its activities and active uses before applying. Resources at the bottom of this page provide details from the community consultations that will guide the renovations to the facility and property.

We have not yet decided on the options for artwork placement within the building expansion design or elsewhere on the renovated or existing property. Indoor or outdoor options (or a combination) are possible, or opportunities may become clear as renovation designs are finalized. We will provide artists or teams selected to participate in stage two with more information about placement possibilities to consider.

Through conversations with community centre staff, these themes have developed:

  • a theme of ‘togetherness’ would be well received by the community that relies on MCCC
  • interactive opportunities in the creation of the public artwork or potential programming once installed should be considered, as these are well aligned with general MCCC values and their approach to delivering services

Land acknowledgement

Kitchener is located on the traditional territory of Chonnonton (aka Attawandaron or Neutral), Anishinabek (Mississauga peoples) and Haudenosaunee (Iroquois Confederacy) peoples. The Haldimand Tract, an area that includes six miles on either side of the Grand River from its mouth to its source, was promised to Six Nations (Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Cayuga and Tuscarora) and other Aboriginal allies in 1784 as compensation for their loss of land during the American Revolution.

Before the 1780s, Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek people shared this area for fishing, hunting, trapping and living, adhering to a philosophy known as the “Dish with One Spoon” treaty. Before the destruction and dispersal of their nation by the 1650s, the Chonnonton or “keepers of the deer” numbered about 40,000 people.

Kitchener continues to be the home of a variety of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples from across Turtle Island. The treaty people who live in this area include Indigenous peoples, new immigrants and immigrants from past generations, including those brought here involuntarily during the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, as well as settlers.

Other site considerations

Public safety is a priority in the acquisition of artworks for our collection. We prefer artworks that are sustainable, durable, non-corrosive in nature and require low maintenance. In addition, a core purpose of installing public art in this location is to support the creation and offering of an accessible, welcoming and equity-affirming space that can be enjoyed by people from any cultural background, ethnicity, identity, class or social disposition.

In addition to the design, functional or intentional details that may be shared with artists or teams preparing stage two proposals, expressions of interest should:

  • create an environment in which persons of all ages and backgrounds can feel like they belong and are valued, no matter the context or timing of their sharing or using the space
  • foster an environment where each person has an opportunity to participate fully in creating success and is valued for their distinctive skills, experiences and perspectives
  • be compatible with the context and role of a public community centre – in this case, one that is committed to an inclusive and diverse framework in which behaviours and actions reflect the values of trust, mutual respect and dignity for all individuals

Our Arts and Culture Advisory Committee also recommends that accessibility be considered in the artwork selection processes, seeking to include rather than exclude as many people as possible.

City staff review and site support requirements

We will conduct a technical review of eligible proposals during the stage two jury review process.

In addition, before city council approval and signing of a contract commissioning a public artwork for MCCC, the selected artist or team must demonstrate to our review staff that technical requirements can be accomplished in the final production of the artwork, its fabrication(s) and installation. City staff will support selected artists or teams during this process, but if the artist or team cannot meet these requirements to the satisfaction of technical reviewers, we will not proceed with a commission.

At our discretion, the selected artist(s) must provide detailed design drawings of the artwork sealed by a professional engineer licensed to practice in Canada. This may include detailed design and engineering for all anchoring or other installation requirements. With our consultants, we will review all engineered installation details to ensure compatibility with the site. The selected artist or team will work with the consultants to coordinate their work with the design intent and to generate all sealed drawings required by our team.

The installation will be implemented with support from our staff. Contracting and completion of the installation must be done by an approved contractor.


Selection process

The creation of public art for MCCC will be achieved through a three-stage competition administered by city staff:

  • stage one
    • open and publicized call for expressions of interest from artists or artist teams
    • the jury selects qualified artists or teams who are invited to continue to stage two
  • stage two
    • up to five short-listed artists or teams will prepare detailed concept drawings and/or maquettes, accompanied by textual descriptions, and present their work to the jury
    • we will provide artists with site renovation details
    • we will pay artists for this work
  • stage three
    • we will present up to three concepts prepared by short-listed artists or teams to users and neighbourhood stakeholders of MCCC
    • users and neighbourhood stakeholders of MCCC will indicate a preferred option

The jury’s recommendation will proceed to our Public Art Working Group and our Arts and Culture Advisory Committee for support before being reported to city council for final approval.

Once approved, we will prepare a contract with the artist or artist team. The artist or team must carry third-party liability insurance for two million dollars and, if applicable, provide us with a GST/HST registration number.

The selected artist or team will work with the architectural consultant team and selected construction team to achieve a successful public art installation.

We reserve the right to end the competition at any stage. In such a case, we will notify the artist(s) who have submitted proposals as necessary.

Jury composition

A public art jury ensures a fair process through balanced participation and discussion of all eligible submissions. The jury’s responsibility is to assess submissions and select based on artistic merit, project practicality and other identified criteria.

Staff will assemble the jury to reflect resident demographics and to include the following participants:

  • one member of our Public Art Working Group
  • two visual arts professionals from the region
  • one representative of the project architect
  • one city staff member representing MCCC
  • one member from the neighbourhood association
  • the ward councillor (if available to fully participate)

Jury evaluation criteria

Jury members will independently evaluate the EOI submissions received from artists or teams against the criteria outlined below using a three-colour rating system (green for yes, yellow for maybe, red for no) and other rating inputs (including juror commentaries). At a meeting designed to determine the most suitable, practical, intriguing and enduring proposals, jury members will discuss proposals identified as preferred potential options by that initial evaluation. Up to five proposals rated highest by the jury will advance to stage two.

Stage one evaluation categories include:

  • artist or team qualifications and ability to produce high-quality artworks
  • artist or team capacity to successfully complete and install an artwork
  • artist or team capability to enable meaningful community engagement

Stage two evaluation categories include:

  • artistic merit of the proposed concept to enhance or activate public space
  • degree to which the proposal responds to the facility and community goals
  • capacity of the artist or team to collaborate with project design professionals
  • relevance of the proposed artwork to the EOI open call, facility priorities and local culture
  • appropriateness of the scale, visibility and/or presence of the artwork
  • appropriateness of the proposal to the budget, scope and timelines available
  • suitability and sustainability of material and maintenance requirements
  • general technical feasibility (durability, assembly, safety, accessibility)

The jury may find that none of the submissions fulfill the project criteria. In this case, we may re-open the selection process.


Compensation

The commission fee available to the selected artist or team does not include costs related to jury participation or meetings, EOI marketing or artwork unveiling and interpretation.

The commission fee for MCCC’s public art project is $30,000 (Canadian dollars). This amount must cover:

  • artist’s or team’s design or production fees
  • insurance and legal fees
  • materials costs
  • studio and storage costs
  • fabrication
  • transportation of the artwork to the site
  • installation costs
  • subcontractors’ fees (example: structural engineering services for artwork fabrication)
  • documentation (photography of work-in-progress, of finished work, material specification sheets, maintenance schedule)
  • artist or team travel expenses

Our staff will support the logistics of the installation. The artist will provide consultation to our staff during the installation process.

Stage two reimbursements

Artists or teams that are short-listed by the jury for proposal development and consideration (up to five artists or teams) are eligible for a fee of $500 (Canadian dollars) per selected artist or team. This fee aims to cover preparation materials and time required to further develop and present a stage-two proposal.


Eligibility and submission requirements

The competition is open to artists or artist teams who live in the Region of Waterloo and can demonstrate experience in creating site-responsive and/or participatory public art projects. The winning artist or team must carry liability insurance for two million dollars, be prepared to enter into a legal agreement with the City of Kitchener, and, if applicable, provide a GST/HST registration number.

Artists that are currently under contract to produce another public art project for the City of Kitchener are ineligible until the current contract is completed. In exceptional cases, we may waive this condition for an artist or team.

Submission requirements for stage one EOI

To be eligible for stage one consideration by the jury, submissions must include:

  • letter of interest (maximum 1,000 words) highlighting your qualifications, relevant experience and a description of your intended approach to this public art project opportunity
  • summary of credentials relevant to the project or a Curriculum Vitae (maximum two pages)
  • current contact information (email and phone, plus website if applicable)
  • no more than 10 high-resolution image files (jpg, pdf, video) that illustrate past public art projects and/or community participatory art-making activities or results
  • if possible, please submit a PowerPoint or PDF file to detail individual images (title, size, medium, location, year created). If not possible, please provide an accompanying list of details describing the submitted image files
  • two letters of reference from past public art projects or other sponsors

If possible, please use the online submission form to apply. If this is not possible, please submit two unbound copies of your EOI package (page size 8 ½” x 11”).


Selection and construction schedule

We expect to start property improvements in 2025. We will clarify general construction project timelines through a signed agreement with the proponent selected to complete the construction through a separate RFQ process. Before the design and development phase, we will complete a feasibility study of state of good repair issues. The facility renovation should begin in 2025. After we select an artist or team and concept, we will determine the public artwork installation schedule.

The public art selection process will proceed as follows:

  • March 25, 2024: open call for Expressions of Interest released
  • April 24, 2024: public art opportunity info session at MCCC, 216 Mill Street, Kitchener  
  • June 23, 2024: deadline for receipt of submissions to the Expressions of Interest open call
  • August 2024: selection of stage two artists or teams in the MCCC public art competition
  • September 2024: deadline for receipt of detailed stage two proposals from artists or teams
  • October 2024: stage two artist presentations and jury selection of three finalist options
  • November 2024: public engagement opportunity at MCCC to choose one preferred option
  • winter 2024-25: presentation of selected artwork proposal to Public Art Working Group, Arts and Culture Advisory Committee and Council
  • spring 2025: legal agreement prepared for selected artist(s) by legal services team

Please note that the anticipated timelines for facility or property renovation, public art competition selection and related administrative requirements may be subject to change.


Application

Applications for this EOI are due at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 23, 2024. We will not consider incomplete or late submissions.

You can apply:

If you have any questions, please send us an email or call 519-741-2200, ext. 7424.

Online

To apply online, please complete our application form.

Apply online

By delivery or mail

To apply by delivery or mail, please submit two unbound copies of your package (page size 8 ½” x 11”) before the final deadline to:

Mill-Courtland Community Centre Public Art Competition
c/o Economic Development, 6th floor, City Hall
200 King Street West
Kitchener, ON
Canada
N2G 4G7
Attention: Eric Rumble, arts and creative industries coordinator

We are not responsible for damage to, or loss of, support materials.


Reference materials

You can use the reference materials listed below to help develop your submission:

Learn more about the expansion project and past engagement on Engage Kitchener.