This competition is now closed.
Ottawa is built on un-ceded Anishinabe Algonquin territory. The peoples of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation have lived on this territory for millennia. Their culture and presence have nurtured and continue to nurture this land. The City of Ottawa honours the peoples and land of the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation. The City of Ottawa honours all First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and their valuable past and present contributions to this land.
About Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery are located on the main level at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West. Both galleries are open daily from 9 am to 5 pm (excluding holidays) and are wheelchair accessible. Admission is free. (Hours of operation are subject to change due to facility operations.)
Exhibitions at Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery feature the work of professional artists working in all media and include solo, group and curated exhibitions, exhibitions from the diplomatic sector, and circulating exhibitions from other institutions. Both galleries present a combined total of approximately 8 exhibitions annually, each of which lasts approximately eight weeks. Annual programming consists of artist talks and tours and an exhibition featuring the City of Ottawa Art Collection. An exhibition related to the Karsh Award is presented every two years at Karsh-Masson Gallery and the next one will occur in 2024. Although City Hall has 24/7 security, gallery staff are not onsite daily therefore exhibitions must be self-sufficient and cannot require regular maintenance.
A public gallery is a forum for the exploration of diverse ideas. The City of Ottawa exhibits artwork in all media that are of interest and importance to the community, that foster a sense of who we are, and that reflect current artistic practices. These exhibitions are presented in the public domain allowing for an appreciation, understanding and interpretation of our past and present through gallery programming.
The City of Ottawa encourages applications from individuals with lived experience and identity as a member of Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities, persons with disabilities, women and other equity-deserving groups. The City of Ottawa recognizes the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation as Ottawa’s Indigenous Host Nation. The City of Ottawa is committed to supporting cultural activities that respond to the Calls to Action put forward in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report. Applications from Anishinabe Algonquin Host Nation, First Nations, Inuit and Métis artists and curators are welcome and encouraged. The City of Ottawa recognizes both official languages as having the same rights, status and privileges.
- This call for proposals is open to professional artists and curators working in all media. A professional artist is someone who has specialized training in his or her artistic field (not necessarily in academic institutions), who is recognized by his or her peers as such, is committed to his or her artistic activity, and has a history of public presentation.
- National and international applicants are eligible, however priority is given to applicants who live, or have lived, within a 150 km radius of Ottawa or who have a local connection, such as participating in the local arts community. Successful applicants will be responsible for all costs related to shipping artwork to and from the gallery, travel and accommodation.
- Applicants who have exhibited at Corridor 45|75, Karsh-Masson Gallery or City Hall Art Gallery within the last four consecutive years are not eligible to apply.
Only one proposal per applicant will be considered and the first application received by the Public Art Program will be the one that is considered. City of Ottawa employees or elected representatives are not eligible to apply.
Artworks with electrical components:
- Artworks that require electricity must be approved by an accredited certification or evaluation agency prior to being installed at Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery. The object(s) must have an official certification mark or label indicating that the product has been independently assessed for safety. A list of recognized certification marks and labels is available.
- For more information, visit the Electrical Safety Authority or call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233).
- Any costs associated with meeting the certification requirement are the sole responsibility of the artist.
- Applicants must provide documentation that their artwork(s) meets ESA standards (i.e. certification mark) in their proposal.
- Exhibiting artists will be paid an exhibition fee in accordance with either the 2024 or the 2025 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 1 (Exhibition and Screening Royalty Schedule, Institutional Category I). Curators will receive a professional fee.
- The exhibition fee and the curatorial fee include all professional services related to the preparation, installation, consultation, writing tasks, and production of artwork(s) associated with the exhibition.
- Each exhibition is allotted one presentation fee for an optional talk or tour in accordance with the 2024 or the 2025 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 4 (C.2.0 – Presentation and Consultation fees, Flat rate per half day, under 4 hours).
- The City of Ottawa Public Art Program does not cover expenses related to travel, accommodation, per diems and the transportation of artwork(s).
- Complex installations of any kind requiring special equipment, regular monitoring or specific support beyond the City of Ottawa Public Art Program’s budget are the sole responsibility of the artist.
Assessment criteria and process
All eligible applications are reviewed by a peer assessment committee based on the following criteria:
- Artistic merit, originality and professionalism
- Cohesiveness of the artwork examples and the written proposal statement
- Appropriateness and suitability of the proposal to the highly public nature of the gallery spaces
- Technical and physical feasibility
Peer assessment committee members first review eligible applications individually then meet to review them together. The composition of each committee aims to balance representation of artistic specialization, practice, style, and philosophy, as well as fair representation of official languages, gender, geographic areas and culture-specific communities. Peer assessment committee members are chosen based on their knowledge and experience, fair and objective opinions, ability to articulate ideas, and ability to work in a team environment. Members of the committee change with every competition. City employees are responsible for the selection of peer assessment committee members. If you are interested in participating as a peer assessment committee member, please email email@example.com.
Read through the Call for proposals completely before beginning your online application and make sure you have all the required information ready.
- A complete application must include the support material listed below
- Support material may be written in English or French
- Files must be saved in a format compatible with Windows 10
- To format a PDF document, utilize “Save as” or “Export” from a Word or similar text-based document
Save items 2, 3 and 4 as one PDF.
1. Proposal synopsis (80 words maximum)
Summarize the proposal statement. The peer assessment committee will refer to the synopsis as a quick reference during deliberations.
2. Proposal statement (two pages or 1,000 words maximum)
- Describe the proposed exhibition’s content and theme, and how you will situate your artwork within the gallery space. A clear understanding of both spaces is necessary for the committee to visualize your exhibition (see gallery floor plans for reference).
- Two-person and group exhibitions must clearly outline a cohesive theme and rationale.
- Applications will be considered for both galleries. Requests to exhibit at either gallery must be explained in the proposal statement, however not all requests are granted.
- Due to the highly public nature of the galleries, proposed exhibitions must be as self-sufficient as possible.
- Outline any technical or electronic specifications of the exhibition.
3. Artistic resumé (three pages or 1,500 words maximum per artist)
If multiple artists are involved, include each artist’s resumé.
4. Image/media list (two pages maximum)
List the following information about each image/media file included in your application: artist’s name, artwork title, date, material and support, dimensions, and duration of artwork (if applicable). This list may also include additional information or a description about the individual artworks.
5. Digital image files and time-based media files
Upload ten digital image files or ten minutes total of time-based media content (or a combination of both for a total of 10 units) that support the proposal statement and follow the guidelines listed below.
- At least half of the images/media files submitted must be artwork that will be included in your final exhibition should your application be successful.
- Curated, two-person and group exhibitions: send ten files maximum.
- Applicants who wish to include a combination of digital images and media files: send ten files maximum with no more than ten minutes of content total. For each minute of video/audio content, remove one digital image (i.e. send 6 JPG images and one video file that is 4 minutes long or send 6 JPGs and 2 video files that are 2 minutes long each).
- Strict adherence to the naming convention outlined below is necessary for images to be uploaded into our database and successfully viewed during the peer assessment committee meeting. Failure to adhere to this format may render your file unusable.
Image files must be:
- Saved as JPG at 72 dpi and no larger than 1 MB each
- Named with the corresponding image list number, title, date, medium and dimensions, each separated by an underscore. Do not leave a space before or after the underscore. File names must not exceed 150 characters.
Format for naming image files:
01_The Mountain_2014_graphite, acrylic and metal_96 x 106 inches.jpg
02_Untitled 3 detail_2019_chromogenic print on paper_206 x 122 cm.jpg
03_Installation at Karsh-Masson Gallery_2015_mixed media_variable dimensions.jpg
Time-based media files must be:
- Shared using a web link to each video or audio file. If the web link does not work, the content will not be viewed.
- Cued to the excerpt you want presented to the committee (or provide detailed cue instructions in the description field).
Support material that requires specialized software, plug-ins, extensions, or other executables that need to be downloaded or installed will not be reviewed. Applicants are responsible for testing support materials to ensure readability.
Deadline and notification
Late or incomplete applications will not be accepted.
The Public Art Program will send applicants a confirmation email when your application has been received and processed. If you do not receive an email from the Public Art Program two weeks after your submission, please contact us for confirmation.
Applicants will be notified of the peer assessment committee’s decisions by email within three months of the deadline date.
Results are final. Due to the volume of applications received for this competition, artistic feedback will not be provided. If your application is not successful, you are encouraged to try again!
Copyright and moral rights
The artist shall retain the copyright of the artworks. Moral rights also remain with the artist. The City of Ottawa will seek copyright permission to reproduce images of the artwork for non-commercial purposes.
Confidentiality of information
Personal information in your application is collected under the authority of the City Council approved Public Art Policy. Personal information will only be used for evaluating your application and administering the City of Ottawa Public Art Program. City of Ottawa employees and peer assessment committee members are required to treat both the content of applications and the deliberations of the committee as confidential. Committee members turn in their copies of materials for shredding and delete their computer files at the end of the peer assessment meeting.
Question: How are exhibition costs, artist fees and curatorial fees allocated, and which are covered by the gallery versus which ones are covered by the artist?
Answer: Exhibiting artists will be paid an exhibition fee in accordance with either the 2024 or the 2025 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 1 (Exhibition and Screening Royalty Schedule, Institutional Category I). Curators will receive a professional fee.
Complex installations of any kind requiring special equipment or specific support beyond the City of Ottawa Public Art Program’s budget are the sole responsibility of the artist. The cost to prepare, produce and transport the artworks to the exhibition space are the sole responsibility of the artist.
The Public Art Program covers the cost of all standard exhibition deliverables such as the printing/installing of vinyl lettering, the printing of exhibition booklets, and the installing/dismantling artworks and equipment. We will cover the writing fee should the artist wish to hire a writer for the exhibit booklet’s interpretive text. Artists who are successful in the competition will receive a breakdown of these items in their contract and will also be able to discuss details during their standard 5-month check-in meeting with the Public Art Officer, Exhibitions.
To offset our Program's limited budget, artists often apply for additional funding through various organizations that include the City of Ottawa or the Ontario Arts Council, to name a few.
Question: Am I eligible to apply if I took part in a previous exhibition as a guest writer?
Answer: Yes, those who previously took part in exhibitions as guest writers for the exhibit booklet’s interpretive text are still eligible to apply. However, applicants who have exhibited as artists or curators at Corridor 45|75, Karsh-Masson Gallery or City Hall Art Gallery within the last four consecutive years are not eligible to apply.
Question: Are City of Ottawa employees eligible to apply?
Answer: No, unfortunately all full-time and part-time City of Ottawa employees or elected representatives are not eligible to apply.
Question: Can you clarify what “participating in the local arts community” means, and is my connection to Ottawa sufficient?
Answer: The strength of your artistic connection to Ottawa and level of participation in the local arts community will be assessed during the peer-assessment phase by way of jury discussion. We suggest clearly outlining your connection to Ottawa in your proposal.
Question: Does the City of Ottawa Public Art Program cover expenses related to shipping of artwork?
Answer: No, the City of Ottawa Public Art Program does not cover expenses related to travel, accommodation, per diems, shipping or transportation of artworks as outlined in our honorarium criteria.
Question: Does the City of Ottawa Public Art Program provide TV screens for use in exhibitions? Can you provide technical information about these?
Answer: Artists who are successful in the competition are welcome to use the gallery equipment. The gallery has two high-quality projectors, a few media players, and many TVs – this will be discussed and if you are selected for an exhibition.
If an artist requires any additional equipment, they will have to source/rent it elsewhere at his/her/their own expense. Artworks that require electricity must be approved by an accredited certification or evaluation agency prior to being installed. The object(s) must have an official certification mark or label indicating that the product has been independently assessed for safety. A list of recognized certification marks and labels is available.
Question: If I am selected for an exhibition and more than half my works change by the time the exhibition time comes around, is that ok?
Answer: No, this is not acceptable. As is outlined in the Support material section of the Call, at least half of the images/media files submitted in your application must be artwork that will be included in your final exhibition should your application be successful. The gallery reserves
the right to refuse to display works of art that are not consistent with the original proposal at the sole discretion of the gallery and may result in a cancellation or postponement of the exhibit.
Question: How do you assess if an artist is professional?
Answer: Based on our eligibility criteria, artists are considered to be professional if their peers recognize them as such. This is based on their commitment to their practice, history of public presentation, and artistic training. Training doesn’t have to take the form of a college or university education – art classes, workshops and apprenticeships are all recognized. The peer assessment committee’s evaluation is based on the strength, merit and professionalism of the proposal and support material that accompanies it, as well as the suitability to the gallery spaces.
Question: Do I have to pay to exhibit my work, or do I get paid to exhibit?
Answer: You do not have to pay to exhibit your work. Exhibiting artists will be paid an exhibition fee in accordance with either the 2024 or the 2025 CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Recommended Fee Schedule, Section 1 (Exhibition and Screening Royalty Schedule, Institutional Category I). Curators will receive a professional fee. The City of Ottawa Public Art Program does not cover expenses related to travel, accommodation, per diems and the transportation of artwork(s) and complex installations of any kind requiring special equipment, regular monitoring or specific support beyond the City of Ottawa Public Art Program’s budget are the sole responsibility of the artist.
Question: How do I get images of my works to submit?
Answer: You can photograph, photocopy or scan your artworks, depending on what is most suitable. Submit these files as JPEGS and in adherence to our image file standards as outlined on the call. If you require assistance with your application, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 613-580-2424 ext. 14167
Question: Are there size requirements for artworks?
Answer: There are no size requirements for artworks, as long as they can fit in the gallery space. See gallery floor plans below for more information in this regard:
Artworks in an exhibition can be varied in size, just like they can be varied in media, approach, etc.
Question: Are there any stipulations regarding the display/framing of artworks?
Answer: No. You can exhibit unframed works, canvas works, framed works, etc. The only stipulation is that your artwork arrives with appropriate hardware to allow for hanging/installation. If the artist does not provide hardware, the gallery will provide hardware and reclaim it at the end of the exhibition. 3D artwork or complex installations may require gallery stanchions, plinths, or additional security support. The gallery can provide these based on availability.
Question: Are there certain themes that are more suitable for exhibiting in Karsh-Masson Gallery, City Hall Art Gallery or Corridor 45|75, and are there themes that are not allowed?
Answer: The City doesn’t censor artists. You are welcome to apply with works that cover any theme which will in turn be assessed by way of selection committee discussion. As accessible and public gallery spaces, we try to be respectful of the galleries’ diverse audience. For example, subject matter that displays nudity will be accompanied by a discretionary sign.
Question: What are the timeline considerations for selected exhibitions?
Answer: Exhibition timeslots are determined further into the process (post selection) and are based on many factors. Selected artists/curators will receive notice of their exhibition dates well in advance of exhibition start dates. If you have a preferred exhibition season, please select using the online form. Although the Public Art Program will do its best to accommodate the preferred exhibition season, there are no guarantees due to overall scheduling impacts.
Both galleries present a combined total of approximately 8 exhibitions annually, each of which lasts approximately eleven weeks.
Question: If my exhibition is selected, do I have to be in-person at the allotted gallery space at certain times, and do I have to be there during delivery of artworks, install, etc.
Answer: Selected artists and curators are contracted to be present on installation and dismantle dates. Artists are also responsible for the delivery and pick-up of their artworks from the gallery space. Delivery and pickup times for artwork can be worked out in the months prior to the exhibition start date.
Karsh-Masson Gallery and City Hall Art Gallery are operated by the City of Ottawa Public Art Program.
613-580-2424 ext. 14167
Accessible formats and communication supports are available upon request. If you are unable to view documents or require alternative file formats, please complete an Accessible Documents Request Form.
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