Five by Five Call for Curators

By Editorial Team on August 8, 2011

Deadline: Thu, 07 July 2022

Five by Five Call for Entries Washington DC DCCAH washington dc public art curators on East City Art

Request for qualifications for local, national, and international curators to develop groundbreaking temporary public art installations in the District of Columbia during Spring of 2012

Application deadline: September 16, 2011

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) is responsible for providing grants, programs and educational activities that encourage diverse artistic expressions and learning opportunities, so that all District of Columbia residents and visitors can experience the rich culture of our city. One tool with which the agency accomplishes this goal is the DC Creates! Public Art program (DC Creates!). This program is responsible for purchasing, commissioning and installing public art works throughout the District to cultivate dynamic, vibrant and nurturing communities through the use of art and design. DC Creates! provides opportunities for individuals to encounter art in parks, libraries, community centers, government offices, bridges and other public venues. DCCAH currently has a public art portfolio that includes more than 120 permanent site-specific works and an Art Bank Collection of nearly 2,500 artworks purchased from local artists and installed within District government agencies.

DC Creates! has completed a public art master plan, which can be viewed on the DCCAH website. Throughout the master planning process, DC Creates! met with various stakeholders from the Fall of 2008 to the Winter of 2009 to discuss community needs and wants. Curators took part in the community engagement process and expressed the desire for increased opportunities for the curatorial community to play a role in the District’s public art program. One of the recommendations of the public art master plan is to support temporary exhibitions of art work in public spaces on a regular basis. As a result, DCCAH created the 5×5 Temporary Public Art Project to offer the city an opportunity to use art as a tool to activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces. 5×5 will be presented during the spring of 2012, during the National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial Celebration. The five-week festival, March 20 through April 27, 2012, will welcome spring to Washington, DC and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the gift of cherry trees from Japan to the United States.

5×5 Overview

5×5, DCCAH’s new temporary public art project, will result in twenty-five groundbreaking temporary public art installations that will be installed concurrently throughout the District of Columbia. DCCAH is seeking five highly-experienced and innovative contemporary art curators to select and work with five artists each to develop and present exciting, temporary art works in public spaces throughout the District of Columbia. The resulting twenty-five projects will activate and enliven publicly accessible spaces and add an ephemeral layer of creativity and artistic expression to neighborhoods across the District.

All media and art forms will be considered, including, but not limited to visual art, performance, light, digital, projection, and event-based work. Installations can be of any duration, but may not exceed 4 months.

5×5 Goals

The successful curatorial candidates will ensure that the following goals of the project are met:

  • to creatively activate spaces and sites to attract residents and visitors to explore within and beyond the monumental core.
  • to showcase works of art that are innovative and engage the viewers in dynamic, interactive, and creative ways.
  • to create opportunities for artists to experiment with approaches not possible through permanent public art commissions.
    to build relationships with local residents, galleries, and cultural institutions.
  • to create an environment in which the works of local, regional, national and international artists merge to reflect the character and identity of the city.
  • to promote the creative profile of Washington, DC to the nation and the world.


The competition is open to all professional curators or curatorial organizations with site-specific and/or temporary public art experience; however preference will be given to curators who reside in the District of Columbia and curators who include DC-based artists.

Selection Process

The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) seeks qualifications from curators or curatorial organizations with significant curatorial experience in the identification, design, fabrication and installation of temporary public art installations. DCCAH’s selection committee, representing diverse interests and expertise, will review all submitted applications and, based on the Evaluation Criteria listed below, select eight to ten semi-finalists. Each semi-finalist will be awarded an honorarium of up to $1,000.00 to create a proposal that outlines their curatorial approach and vision for the five installations. Semi-finalists will be given a list of sites to choose from in preparing the proposal (see Sites below).


DCCAH is currently securing sites for the 5×5 Temporary Public Art Project through its partnerships with private property owners and other District and Federal agencies such as the National Park Service (NPS), DC Office of Planning (OP), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC), DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and the District Department of Transportation (DDOT). The selected sites may or may not be owned by the District government. DCCAH is also open to sites proposed by the selected curators.


Currently, DCCAH has allocated up to $100,000 per curator, which includes the curator’s fees, fees for the five artists, as well as the design, fabrication, installation and de-installation of the five sites. The five selected curators will lead the 5×5 implementation process and will manage and oversee each artist’s concept(s), budget(s), and schedule(s). Additional funds for reimbursement of travel expenses will be available, as needed.

DCCAH will provide site permits, marketing, events management, publicity, and overall project coordination. Selected curators are encouraged to promote the 5×5 project within their artistic, professional and social networks.

Calendar and Timeline

It is the goal of DCCAH to have each temporary public art installation unveiled to the public on the same day during the 2012 National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial. The Centennial will be a 5-week festival, from March 20 – April 27, 2012. An unveiling date for the 5×5 installations will be determined in late September.

  • August 3, 2011 – Issue 5×5 Call to Curators
  • September 16, 2011 Deadline for 5×5 Call for Curators
  • September 30, 2011 – Notification and Announcement of Semi-Finalists
  • Early November 2011 – Semi-Finalists Proposals due
  • Early December 2011 – Announcement of the Five Selected Curators
  • Late March 2012 – Installation of the twenty-five groundbreaking temporary public art installations

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial

Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo to Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan and the continued close relationship between the two countries.

The five-week celebration, from March 20 through April 27, 2012, will involve the highest levels of government, our greatest cultural institutions, exciting celebrities and renowned performers. The Centennial Celebration will engage millions, and will educate, entertain, and embrace the local community, the nation, and the world. 5×5’s creativity and innovation will permeate signature Cherry Blossom Centennial events elevating them to new heights.

This exciting celebration is an opportunity to showcase Washington, DC as a springtime destination. The Festival’s goal is to promote Washington, DC to the nation and deliver the brand of our city.

Submission Instructions

All applications must be submitted through DCCAH’s free online application system. Step-by-step instructions for how to upload your required materials (including a letter of intent, digital images of past work, and a resume) are available at If you do not already have a Slideroom account, please click “Sign Up” to create a free account. Please note proposals will NOT be accepted at this stage.

Evaluation Criteria

Curatorial Approach  – 50 Percent
Artistic Vision  – 30 Percent
Qualifications and Experience  – 20 Percent


Contact Deirdre Ehlen at (202) 724‐5613 phone; (202) 727‐3148 TDD

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