Public art commissions: expressions of interest

The first stage of a commission is when a commissioner approaches an artist for ‘An expression of interest’.

What is an ‘expression of interest’ and how do I respond?

This is just what it says.  A commissioner contacts an artist in the first instance with an idea or opportunity and asks if you are interested, you in return respond with ‘an expression of interest’ – something in writing that states you are both interested in the opportunity and willing to develop it further.

The Commissioner will do the following:

  • Introduce to you an opportunity, project, or context for a new work to be made
  • Will have knowledge of you and your practice in order to make the contact
  • Enquire into your availability to do the project/work and discuss a realistic timeline
  • Commit to discussing an idea with you
  • Honestly discuss deliverability with you – is this achievable?
  • Ask you to respond to this initial idea in writing declaring your ‘expression of interest’

This initial conversation creates an intention to work together, a space to develop ideas.

As an Artist you should:

  • Consider honestly if this opportunity is interesting: Does it spark your imagination? Does it contribute or is it in keeping with your practice?
  • Consider carefully – do you have time, what is the budget?
  • Research context and site and make sure you have an independent knowledge of the project/opportunity
  • Discuss how specific the brief is and if there is room for development
  • Ask all questions to the Commissioner, no matter how small
  • Arrange a meeting with Commissioner to discuss further in person – never underestimate the value of meeting in person and establishing a solid working relationship
  • Put forward different ideas that create a space where you can work together
  • Look at what agendas there might be, clarify intentions and expectations of the commissioner, and of the project as a whole

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