Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Call for Artists

ARTSPARKS—a partnership between Seattle Parks and Recreation, 4Culture’s Site Specific Program, and the Seattle Office of Arts &Cultural Affairs—is seeking proposals for arts projects to be performed and/or temporarily installed in Occidental Park for one or more weeks, June through September 2010. Any and all arts disciplines are welcome.

Individuals and organizations are asked to submit one to three distinct proposals for how they would implement a specific project in this unsecured public space. Collaborations or simultaneous projects are welcome. Projects may extend for one or more weeks. Final negotiations and scheduling of projects will be determined after proposals are chosen.

A map and a one-page introduction to Occidental Square Park are attached. Please note the boundaries to the park. Applicants are encouraged to visit and familiarize themselves with the park before designing or submitting their ideas.


Vision and purpose for ARTSPARKS program:

In the spirit of New York City’s Performa and Portland’s TBA Festival, ARTSPARKS will convert Occidental Square Park into a showcase for the creative imagination of artists of all kinds. Using this public space as art space, artists may produce street theater, dance, temporary sculpture, environmental installations, music, media art, or whatever their imaginations might envision, bringing the challenge and spark of art into the day-to-day of downtown life. Some productions may be destination events attracting crowds, others may be small, seemingly random surprises, and others somewhere in between. The end result: Occidental Square Park becomes a place where art and life entwine--where one goes to meet the unexpected and catch some of the freshest work coming out of the arts community.

Impetus for the program:

ARTSPARKS is part of the Downtown Parks Renaissance Initiative to make our downtown parks the lively, safe, and welcoming public spaces they should be. Artists and artistic creations are one of our most powerful tools to bring energy and life into the public realm.


Applicants must have demonstrated experience in producing public arts events or installations. Priority will be given to applicants with experience producing programs in outdoor, public settings in collaboration with one or more sponsoring organizations.

Program Budget

Maximum funding available per week is $2,000. The program will extend for 10 to 15 weeks and feature multiple temporary art projects. (Negotiation may be necessary for multi-week projects.) In addition, Seattle Parks & Recreation will provide equipment, when possible, including dance floor, stage, tables, chairs, tents, some on-site staffing support and some promotional support.

Application Requirements

  1. One to three distinct proposals with sample budgets attached (maximum three pages per proposal, including budget).
  2. Resume, including list of curated exhibits or event series and of work in outdoor settings (maximum two pages).
  3. Work sample, submitted on CD or DVD, with demonstrated examples of applicant’s experience in implementing projects appropriate for outdoor public spaces. For each project shown, please include written information citing title, date, location, nature of project, applicant’s role, and participating artists.
  4. Artist websites may be submitted in place of, or in addition to, the CD or DVD work sample. The panel may review the applicant’s website if the navigation instructions and relevant work samples are easily accessible and delineated in written instructions.
  5. Support materials: articles, reviews, sample publicity materials, etc.
  6. Specify time frame between June 12 and October 3, 2010 when project(s) could be scheduled. Other community events will also be scheduled in Occidental Square Park during this period. For an updated calendar, please contact Victoria Schoenburg (see below) after January 15. ARTSPARKS projects may potentially coincide with each other or with other events, if the uses don’t conflict.

Selection Criteria

  • Artistic merit and quality of the proposed program.
  • History of previous work.
  • Community impact, i.e., feasibility of proposed project to provide an artistic attraction that will add significant interest to the space and bring viewers over a number of days or weeks.
  • Proven ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively with governmental agencies and community stakeholders.
  • Demonstrated ability to work within a timeline and budget.
  • Ability to successfully realize the proposal.

    Proposals should focus activities and installations within the parks boundaries. PLEASE NOTE that much of the area around Occidental Square Park is not park property and is therefore subject to different permitting regulations and procedures.

    All proposals are expected to reflect a realistic perspective on the social and physical challenges of performing or displaying art in a non-secure, urban, public site.

    The ARTSPARKS partnership respects diverse cultures and encourages applicants, artwork, and programming that reflect and welcome the broad diversity of Seattle’s communities.

Application Deadline

Application postmarked by Friday, March 12, 2010 and mailed to

    Victoria Schoenburg

    Seattle Parks and Recreation

    860 Terry Ave. N

    Seattle WA 98109

Or delivered by 4:30 p.m., Friday, March 12, 2010 to

    Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, Reception Desk

    Attn: Victoria Schoenburg MS#9

    100 Dexter Avenue North

    Seattle, WA 98109

(Headquarter offices are located in Denny Park.)

Selection Process

An advisory panel of arts professionals, members of the ARTSPARKS partnership, and community members will review the applications and assist with program selections. The application process is flexibly designed to accommodate a diverse range of projects and arts disciplines. The selection panel will endeavor to structure a balanced, artistically rich, and sustainable program based on the project proposals.

ArtSparks Advisory Panel:

Scott Lawrimore - Owner/Curator, Lawrimore Project

Bryan Yeck - Artist/Owner, Zeitgeist Coffee

Karen Toering - Development Director, Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center

Bob Redmond - Arts Program Manager, Bumbershoot; President, Luna Park Productions

Lane Czaplinski - Artistic Director, On the Boards

Kathy Hsieh - Community Liaison, Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs

Victoria Schoenburg - Manager, Center City Parks, Seattle Parks and Recreation

Charlie Rathbun - Arts Program, 4Culture

Lisa Dixon - Program Director, Pioneer Square Neighborhood Association

Todd Vogel - Community Activist, International Sustainability Institute

Notification of Results

If necessary, applicants may be asked to meet with the program administrators to explain their project in greater detail. All scheduling and project expenses will be subject to negotiation. All applicants will be notified of the panel’s decision no later than April 2, 2010.

We’re here to help!

For questions regarding the park, logistical issues, or program goals, please contact Victoria Schoenburg, Seattle Parks and Recreation Center City Parks Manager, at 206-684-7031 or


Occidental Avenue South between Washington and Main Streets

Basic programming information

  • Access to electricity is available.
  • The Pioneer Square Community Association (PSCA) partners with Seattle Parks and Recreation in developing and funding programming in the park.
  • At least from mid-June through mid-September, it is expected that the PSCA will have a park “concierge” stationed in the park from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. to staff the information kiosk, help to keep the park tidy, and support programming.
  • Bocce playing is encouraged.


Designed by Jones & Jones, 1972

Occidental Park is in the heart of the historic Pioneer Square district. London Plane trees provide shade. Neighboring small businesses include bookstores, art galleries, boutiques, and a variety of other unique shops and eateries.

In 1970, the Seattle City Council established the Pioneer Square Historic District, and in the same year, the district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Pioneer Square Skid Road National Historic District. These moves came just in time to preserve many historic buildings from demolition.

  • It was too late for buildings, such as the Savoy Hotel, that had stood on what is now Occidental Square. The entire block had been converted to a parking lot. City leaders, along with neighborhood activists, reversed the urban renewal trend by replacing this parking lot with tree-lined Occidental Park.
  • The adjacent stretch of Occidental Avenue was closed to traffic and incorporated into the park. Directly south of the park, between Main and Jackson Streets, another block of Occidental Avenue was closed and converted to a pedestrian mall that allows browsers to enjoy sidewalk cafes and art galleries.
  • The historic Grand Central Hotel, also known as the Squire/Latimer Building, opens onto Occidental Square. Designed by Nelson Comstock and Carl Troetsache, it opened in 1889 just after the Great Seattle Fire that consumed most of downtown. The hotel was in its heyday during the Klondike Gold Rush. Later, it declined with the rest of the neighborhood. Alan Black, Richard White, and architect Ralph Anderson acquired and rehabilitated the building in 1971 for retail and office use. The building’s two-story central arcade opens onto Occidental Park.
  • Totem poles and woodcarvings are by Duane Pasco (1970s). They were donated by art gallery owner Richard White and installed in 1987 and 1988. “The tallest totem, Sun and Raven, tells the story of Raven’s theft of the moon and was created for the 1974 Spokane World’s Fair. The nearby Man Riding on Tail of Whale was carved in 1971. The westernmost of the two facing figures is Tsonoqua, a mythological giantess and ‘nightmare bringer’ invoked by exasperated North Coast mothers to frighten their children into obedience. She faces a slightly less fearsome Bear.” (Walt Crowley, National Trust Guide: Seattle, New York, 1998)
  • The Seattle Fallen Firefighters Memorial by Hai Ying Wu (1995) honors generations of heroes.

Occidental Square Park