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Together, We See Sparks RFP


RFP FINAL updated Feb 2019 v2.2

TOGETHER, we see Sparks Project (funded by the National Endowment for the Arts)

 DEADLINE: March 15, 2019

Recommended attendance (at one):

Artist Community Engagement Workshop (includes information on how to apply for this RFP)

February 8 OR February 9, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm*

 The City of Sparks is seeking artists (or artist teams) to create proposals for a mobile artwork or tool that will pique curiosity, prompt interaction, engagement, and gather input from the community to inform the City’s first public art and creative placemaking master plan.

Two (or artist teams) will be chosen in a competitive process to create a mobile artwork or “tool” and engage community with a budget of $4,000 each.

ONLINE PORTAL to submit application materials as instructed.


In 2015, the City of Sparks began one of the largest redevelopment project in its history in downtown Victorian Square.  Planned for completion by 2022, a six-square-block area of downtown Sparks called Victorian square will be transformed into housing (apartments and condos) for 5,000 new residents, new restaurants and retail spaces, an event venue, a central plaza and gathering space. The city’s has allocated funding for a new streetscape plan includes new public sidewalks, planters, curbs, and landscaping. A portion of the streetscape plan allocated a portion or budget for art.

To leverage the arts, culture, and creativity to help drive this change, growth and transformation, the city was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Our Town Grant in 2016 to create an art master plan for the area.  This planning process and the implementation of the plan relies heavily on community input using the creative placemaking model. For this reason, the city is seeking artists to help engage the community through art by creating mobile, participatory artworks or “tools” that attract people and engage them in conversations about their town and the Victorian Square project.


The City has contracted with the nonprofit organization Springboard for the Arts to help applicants learn about practical and conceptual strategies to translate their art into a mobile tool that can be used to engage and prompt interaction with the community.

The applicants for this project must create a proposal for a mobile tool that can be used at public venues/events to inspire people to share ideas about the redevelopment of Victorian Square. While the tool may attract attention and bring people over to do a creative, novel, or interactive activity (play a game, print a postcard, have a popsicle), the ultimate goal is to gather information that can be used to direct the plan. The tool must be used at least 3 times at City of Sparks sponsored special events between June to October 2019.

Once artists/teams are selected, City staff and consultants will work with artists/teams to clarify topics, information to be gathered, and methods that suit the artist and their project. Examples of topics are: how the space is used, how does the city communicate its image, the history of the space, community issues and more. City staff will work with selected artists to schedule when and where the engagements take place and help promote the tools. After the community engagement is completed, the artist owns the mobile tool and may rent out or use it as they wish. The City of Sparks has first right to purchase the work if available for sale.

Using their own art practice as a starting point, artists have created unique mobile engagement tools using poetry, visual art music, and food.  Here are two examples from Ready Go in Saint Paul, MN. More project examples are located at Readygoart.com

La Luchadora is a paleta-inspired cart with an interactive mobile screen print. Communities can use this cart to spread a message one silkscreen poster at a time. Posters are custom-designed for your event ranging from a commemorative image to a participatory poster that poses a question and provides space for participants to write or draw their answer. This can be a great way to collect feedback and information that can inform planning and double as a visual display to demonstrate community engagement.  

The Mobile Sign Shop is housed on a trailer and holds workshops for participants to create their own, customized, carved wooden signs, inspired by the vernacular of Northern Minnesota cabin signs. The traditional cabin sign is carved with a family last name (“The Thompsons”) but the Mobile Sign Shop can be used to collect ideas, such as how to welcome newcomers or what a vacant lot could include, that can also be displayed in place.

The Free Speech Machine is an interactive sculpture that investigates the interplay between physical and virtual public space through a wooden soapbox and giant red megaphone. Participants simply step onto the box and pick up the megaphone and begin speaking. A voice-activated recorder installed inside the box records their speeches. Recordings are later uploaded to a blog, widening the audience for the speakers’ speeches. The Free Speech Machine can be used unattended or with a barker to add atmosphere and instigate participation. Use the Free Speech Machine to collect opinions on a specific issue or as a way of finding out what is important to people more generally.


All applicants are recommended to attend a FREE training session conducted by Springboard for the Arts and City staff:

Friday, February 8, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm OR Saturday, February 9, 9:00 am to 3:00
Larry D Johnson Center 1200 12th Street, Sparks

The City has engaged Springboard for the Arts to produce these training sessions and provide applicants with technical assistance throughout the process of developing their proposals.  Springboard for the Arts have spent years developing new ways for artists to engage the community.  The workshop describes methods for creating mobile public artworks or mobile tools that engage the community and processes for creating a design proposal for the project.

Springboard for the Arts will provide support and assistance for the artist cohort as they build and use their tools.

Note: Students and artists who do not plan to propose a project are welcome to attend the one of the training sessions.


The City of Sparks is desires to commission three artists (or artist teams) in the amount of $4000 each to produce temporary, mobile artworks that engage the community.  The budget must include costs to produce the mobile artwork in its entirety including artist fees, artwork design, fabrication, programming and testing. Artists may not charge for the engagement or set up request for donations or tips during official engagement events.


All artists/artist teams must:

  • Be over the age of 18
  • Live in the within the State of Nevada, or 150 miles to Sparks, NV
  • Encouraged to attend one of the free workshops listed above.
  • Be in person to implement community engagement at a minimum of three City special events between June to October 2019.
  • Prior experience with creating mobile art, public art, or community engagement is not required.


Proposals will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Evidence, based on artist’s past work and experience, illustrating applicant’s ability to create a unique and engaging artwork.
  • Quality of artist’s past work.
  • Quality of proposed concept and its ability to inspire interaction and engagement with the community .
  • Ability of the artist to complete the project on budget and on time.
  • Feasibility of the project based on the project budget, timeline, and artist’s references.
  • The artist (artist teams) ability to employ the tool at a minimum of three City special events between June to October 2019.


A panel comprised of members from the Together We See Sparks Committee and City staff will review the submissions, and select artists/artist teams for the projects.


  • Artist training and information meetings: February 8 and 9, 2019
  • Proposals deadline: must be received by: 11:59   pm March 15, 2019
  • Applicants notified: March 29, 2019
  • Funds disbursed: Upon contract signing
  • Commissioned artist design workshop: Early May 2019
  • Fabrication of mobile tool: May – June 15, 2019 (suggested)
  • Mobile tool completed: June 15, 2019
  • Mobile tool to be employed at a minimum of three City events: June 15 – October 31 (see list below)
  • Submission of information gathered and final artist report November 12, 2019

** Awarded projects are required to attend a project design workshop with Springboard for the Arts and City staff May 2019


Go to: ONLINE GRANT PORTAL to submit application materials as instructed.

Note: prepare all your responses in a doc, excel documents and gather work samples before you begin and submit all at once. The online portal does not allow you to save your work and return.

  Cover Sheet: Contact information (if multiple artists, note lead artist and list team members).

 Project Proposal Narrative – maximum 2 pages. It is highly recommended that applicants look at the Ready Go site and Technical and Conceptual worksheets before creating this narrative.

Please use the following as section headings in the narrative:

1.  Project title.

2.  Description. Describe your artwork and how you will approach this project. Why do you want to make a mobile artwork/tool?

3.  Concept. Describe the concept behind your mobile artwork/tool and what will it do? How will it engage the community in the Victorian Square project? How will it prompt interaction and what is your role in that interaction?  What is the experience you want participants to have? What types of participants is it designed for?

4.  Mobility. How will it be mobile? What will it looks like? Will you build it or hire someone to fabricate it?

5. Events. At which public events do you plan to employ the mobile tool/artwork to gather public input and engage community? A list of available events are located in the addendum.

Budget: Provide a simple budget that includes line items such as artist design fee, material costs, fabrication costs, etc.

Resume: Not to exceed two pages. Can include two additional pages for each artist who is part of a team.

Sketches/Drawings: Maximum two pages of plans, renderings, or drawings of your proposed tool.

Work Samples

Provide 5-7 images of your past work or up to 15 images if applying as part of a team.

 File specifications (each file/link counts as one work sample):

Visual and text work

  • Title each file in the order you wish it to be viewed <number_lastname_firstname>.
  • Visual work: .jpg format at 72 dpi and no more than 1920 pixels on the longest side.
  • Text work: .doc or .docx and no more than 3 pages.

Video or audio work

  • Provide a link in the list below to an online source (i.e. YouTube, Vimeo, MySpace, Bandcamp).

Work Samples List

Create a work sample list that includes the following information for each sample.

  • Name of file or link
  • Title of work
  • Year
  • Materials
  • Short description (optional)

City of Sparks Sponsored Events, dates subject to change

  • Last Fridays Downtown, Last Friday of the Month, May to September
    39 North Marketplace Thursdays, June 6 – Augusts 15 (Off 8/8)
  • Kids Free Fishing Day, June 6 and June 8
  • Sierra Nevada Lavender & Honey Festival, June 23
  • Nugget Star Spangled Sparks Fireworks Spectacular, July 4
  • One World Water Lantern Water Festival, July 27-28
  • Hot August Nights, August 7-10
  • Northern Nevada International Dragon Boat Festival, August 17
  • Best in the West Rib Cook Off, August 28-September 2
  • Southern Fare on the Square, October 12-13
  • PumpkinPalooza, October 20