Tips on Writing a Public Art Proposal

What makes a good proposal?

 Consider what it is you are proposing for?

An event, creative project, exhibition , etc. This will have an impact on your approach.

Are you responding to a call, or negotiating your own project?

If you are responding to a call, then you need to ensure you have carefully read the application details, and understand what is being asked for and what the requirements are. There may be an opportunity to clarify, if you have any questions, it’s a good idea to take up the opportunity to get in touch and make yourself known to the selection panel: but obviously make sure all communications are polite and professional!

Selection panels for projects will consider the following when looking at your proposal:

  1. Does the proposal show a high level of creativity and quality?
  2. Does the proposal respond to the brief (where there is a brief)?
  3. Does the proposal meet the aims of the project?
  4. Is the proposal realistic and achievable, and has this been demonstrated well?


Writing the Proposal:

– Call your project something that sums up what it is you are interested in (try and think of words that describe the core interest rather than the aesthetic/descriptive nature of the project. The title might be the name of your project/piece of work)

  1. Introduction – A short paragraph that details your personal response to the project. This part should set out why you are interested in exploring this. This could include information about previous work and interests, or could be a practice, skills or career based piece, but would aim to give the reader a background as to where you as a creative practitioner are coming from and what makes you relevant to the project. This part should be the ‘hook’ which encourages potential commissioners/employers to read on.


  1. Rationale – This is the part where you set out any precedence for your project, showing the particular area of research that your work responds to and is situated within. The rationale is where you explain why your project is needed, and how you are adding to knowledge or the sector, what makes your project different to other similar projects? This is also where you set out any personal precedence for the project. What is it that interests you as an individual and a practitioner?


Looking at the Brief

The most important aspect of applying to ANYTHING is to look very carefully at exactly what they are asking for! There is no point in wasting both your time and theirs if actually you cannot provide what they want. This will be detailed in different ways for different opportunities.

  • For Salaried Jobs look at skills, person spec and experience.
  • For Teaching as well as the above look at the philosophy/ethos of the School.
  • For Commissions look at outcomes, aims, objectives, deliverables and experience.
  • For MA applications research the course and tutors thoroughly.
  • For Residencies research the locality, the outcomes and process of the residency.
  • For Funding look very carefully at the Criteria and Outcomes.

Delivering the Requirements of the Project – This is a really important part of any proposal.

 Exactly what is the project? Describe practically, exactly what you intend to.

  1.  How are you going to do it? – What kinds of activities may take place and with whom, where or what will you engage with?
  2. How are you going to do it? – What kinds of activities may take place and with whom, where or what will you engage with?
  3. When will the project take place? Write yourself a timeline, showing what sorts of activity will happen when.
  4. What will the outcomes be? – I.e., what will be physically produced at the end of the engaged period?       If at this stage you are not sure, it is OK to say that the process of investigation will lead to a more conclusive idea about what will be produced, but it is a good idea to make suggestions and also a good idea in this case to include images/examples of other work, and examples of the methodology that you intend to use to carry out your project.
  5. Resources
    • Do you need rooms/space?
    • How much money will it cost (do a break down)
    • Other people/employment (are there other people that you need to work with in order to carry out the project? If so, who are they and how will you access them?)
    • Equipment – what will you need? Where will you get it from?
    • Print material/Advertising strategy.
    • Is there any fundraising needed? How do you intend to go about that? Can you get sponsorship in kind?

Risks and Health and Safety – Please identify any known risks which could affect your ability to carry out the project – then set out alternative solutions if any of those risk factors were to take place – this may be as simple as a trip hazard of an electric wire, in which case it needs taping down with gaffa tape, to permission slips for consent of photographs, to failure to raise funds/identify professional partners.


Include images/diagrams/plans where appropriate. As what you are doing is a creative project, it is a good idea to include visual content where possible. If you have logos/advertising materials for your project (even if these are working documents) these should also be included in the proposal. Create mock-ups where you can – show the work on site if possible. Help the selection panel to see your vision.

Also remember: that if you are unsuccessful in your application it does not necessarily mean that you came up with a bad idea: there can be all sorts of reasons why you were not selected: this can include: logistics, short or wrong resources, personal preference of the selection team, not quite what they were thinking etc , etc. And the hard work that you put into this application and developing your idea is not wasted: keep the idea on the back burner, and see if it can be adapted for another opportunity.

What Should Your Proposal Look Like (Check List)

  1. The most obvious rule in any proposal is correct grammar and clear use of language. It can be hard to find grammatical errors when you are very absorbed in what you are writing. Where ever possible ask someone else to proofread your proposal and what ever you do, don’t rely on a spell check!
  1. Every proposal will require you to account for your work in different ways. Whilst elements of texts you have written before may well be relevant, make sure what you write makes sense as a whole and don’t just copy and paste.
  2. Different proposals may require a different style of language, however do not attempt to write in a way that you are uncomfortable with.
  3. Make sure you have answered EVERYTHING asked for in the brief and that you have used examples of your experience/practice to show this.
  4. Do not make unjustified claims for your work.
  5. Make sure you are not coming across as either arrogant or uncertain.
  6. Make sure that everything you write is RELEVANT to proposal, do not waffle!
  7. Make sure all images are in focus, have a consistent layout and are labeled correctly.
  8. Diagrams and drawings need to be clear and professional.

You can read more on Sign Post – Stepping Out as a New Artist – on the AN website with contributions by Anna Francis

This entry was posted in Public Art Advice for Artists and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Tips on Writing a Public Art Proposal

  1. rosiesredart says:

    Reblogged this on rosiesredartblog and commented:
    Useful this is to look at specially because I’m in the middle of just stating to do a Proposal for a current up and coming artist residency I’m part of with my fellow second year Fine Art Degree students. So we are all busy bees creatively working !!!!!!!!!!!!!.

    Liked by 1 person

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