How public art works

Artwork that shows a large black heart with the word, Mississauga, in the centre.
Gary Taxali, Celebration and Reflection (2016-2020). City of Mississauga Temporary Public Art Collection.

If you live or work in Mississauga, you may have seen or experienced art from the City’s growing collection of permanent, temporary and digital public art. Through the Public Art Program, the City’s creating more vibrant communities and public spaces for everyone to enjoy.

Learn how the Public Art Program works, including how we choose the artwork and where it goes, information for professional artists, opportunities for public input and other aspects of the program.

How public art is selected

Fostering community belonging, ownership and pride for public art projects is key to a successful program. It’s important to remember that art is subjective. A strong public art program encourages civic dialogue, intellectual debate and diverse artistic expression. Mississauga has a diverse resident population and different art forms, themes and ideas resonate with different audiences.

The City uses a range of acquisition methods for public art projects, but public art juries select projects over $10,000. Public art juries advise and recommend artist proposals for commission, based on their informed and independent consideration of relevant factors. Juries help maintain transparency, integrity and professionalism in the selection of artworks.

Juries are project-specific, arms-length from the City’s public art curatorial staff, typically contain three to five members and consist of:

  • Arts and design professionals who are knowledgeable in the field of public art or contemporary art (such as artists, architects and curators)
  • Community members with knowledge and insight into the social and cultural climate of Mississauga, and local awareness of the community (such as local volunteers, board advisors, grassroots or non-profit community organizers, youth and group members)
  • Subject matter experts in areas such as accessibility, Indigenous Knowledge, environmental advocacy and historical knowledge
  • People with lived experience (such as direct involvement in an issue or informal training) and individuals from equity-deserving groups, recognizing gender, race, sexual orientation, status, age and abilities

The City’s Public Art Program is committed to having public art juries that are reflective of the diversity of Mississauga’s population. Juries are compensated in accordance with the current CARFAC-RAAV Minimum Fee Schedule.

Every two years, a call for jury members is issued. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about upcoming opportunities.

Public art programs provide free access to high quality art to all residents and visitors of a city. That means it’s important to consider opportunities throughout the city, in all neighbourhoods and communities. In accordance with Corporate Policy and Procedure 05-02-07 City Acquired Art, locations that are accessible exterior and interior public areas are given priority to maximize the potential for members of the public to enjoy public art. All locations must be physically or visually accessible to the public. Public art curatorial staff also evaluate the following:

  • There is geographic justification for the location choice (for example the artwork has a connection to the history or current use of the site or the site is identified as a potential site for public art in the Public Art Master Plan)
  • The public art will not interfere with existing and proposed artwork, buildings or structures in the vicinity
  • Factors such as environmental conditions, safety, site servicing and whether the site may have reached a saturation point

The City’s Public Art Program is committed to equitable opportunities for artists, particularly artists from equity-deserving groups. The program’s approach to equity includes:

  • Art selection juries that are representative of Mississauga’s diverse population and an adjudication process that is objective, impartial and free of biases
  • A range of acquisition methods, such as dedicated competition calls for artists from equity-deserving groups, targeted outreach strategies or anonymous competitions in which juries view submissions without any identifying information for the artist
  • Accessible documents and accessibility accommodations throughout the commissioning process so artists with disabilities can apply to projects without barriers
  • Continuous evaluation and improvement of our application processes. This includes reviewing feedback provided through an anonymous survey and collecting anonymous statistical information on applicants to evaluate the reach of calls for submission

Everyone deserves access to art that reflects their history, society and experiences. The City’s Public Art Program is committed to building a diverse public art collection by:

  • Ensuring that public art juries are representative of Mississauga’s diverse population, which will help to combat the systems of power that grant privilege and access unequally
  • Working with accessibility experts to review artwork proposals, promote accessible art experiences and events, and design artist opportunities that adhere to principles of universal accessibility
  • Acknowledging the Indigenous history of the land throughout all stages of public art acquisition
  • Ensuring that Indigenous public art projects are selected by Indigenous juries, in respect to Indigenous autonomy and self-determination
  • Aligning acquisition processes for memorial art with the City’s review of Asset Naming Policies through an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Lens
  • Committing time and resources to build relationships and create space for authentic community engagement

For artists

Local artists are always eligible to apply for the City’s public art opportunities. The City also works with artists located across Canada and the rest of the world.

A strong public art program owns artwork from a variety of artists, including artists from different areas of the world and artists from different career levels. The benefits include:

  • Presenting artworks from national and international artists provides access to high quality artworks to communities who may not visit museums or galleries. This includes communities that face barriers to participation, including residents that cannot afford to travel.
  • Presenting international artists resonates with diverse audiences within and around the city, which supports economic development, tourism, and newcomer inclusion
  • Commissioning local artists alongside international artists boosts the reputation of local talent, which contributes to local artists’ career development
  • When public art programs commission local, national, and internationally renowned artists, cross-pollination of ideas and inspiration enhance local artistic expression

The City offers virtual workshops for local and emerging artists, based on local needs. Sign up for our newsletter to stay informed about upcoming learning opportunities.

Artists may apply to multiple opportunities, regardless of past work in the city. Additionally, artists may apply to more than one active public art opportunity because public art juries evaluate submissions on a project-by-project basis.

For the general public

The City’s Public Art Master Plan is a community-informed plan that sets the overall curatorial framework for the public art program. Opportunities for public input are available on a project-by-project basis, such as:

  • Open public surveys for residents to review artwork proposals and provide feedback as part of the selection process
  • Open public surveys for residents to select the location of a public art project
  • Creative and participatory activities to engage residents in the creation and development of an artwork
  • Virtual or in-person artist talks and tours

The City values public input and is always looking to hear your ideas for beautifying Mississauga’s streets and celebrating the city’s unique identity. If you have an idea, keep in mind:

  • There is criteria for acquisitions to ensure that project ideas align with the public’s needs and values. This includes artwork that builds the cultural consciousness of Mississauga residents and visitors; embraces audience engagement, interaction, or dialogue; and is diverse and accessible to all ages, abilities, ethnic groups and socio-economic backgrounds.
  • There is a formal art selection process and direct commissions are not undertaken for projects over $10,000. If you are an artist with an idea, you should consider applying to one of our calls for submission.
  • There is a formal acquisition process for memorial and public art. For example, if you are an organization or community group and you have a project proposal, you will need to work with our staff to determine feasibility and provide details on funding and community support.

If you have a specific idea, you should review the criteria for acquisitions and public art locations in Corporate Policy and Procedure 05-02-07 City Acquired Art and the Public Art Master Plan, before emailing public.art@mississauga.ca.

The City receives numerous requests to donate artworks. Given that artworks in our permanent collections are cared for in perpetuity, the City considers multiple factors to ensure the donated work aligns with the City’s principles, goals and responsibilities. If you have an artwork that you’d like to donate, you should consider the criteria for acquisitions in Corporate Policy and Procedure 05-02-07 City Acquired Art.

There is public art throughout Mississauga, but not all of it is owned by the City’s Public Art Program. Public art may be:

  • Privately commissioned by independent property owners, such as public art in a shopping mall or in front of a residential condominium. To find out more information about these artworks, consider who owns the property that the artwork resides on, and contact the property owner directly.
  • Commissioned separately by the City’s Culture Division, as part of the City’s Cultural Districts Implementation Plan. The first phase of the implementation plan focuses on flexible demonstration projects, such as temporary public art and public realm enhancements.
  • Community art initiatives created or led by community members without financial support from the Public Art Program, such as neighbourhood generated murals or collaborative community centre art projects.
  • Beautification initiatives designed to aesthetically enhance public areas but are not necessarily a work of public art, such as planters, painted benches or a student mural in a park. You can contact the City’s Public Art Program to find out more information about community art and beautification projects on public property.

In all instances, the City’s Public Art Program is often involved in the commission or creation of the artwork in question. If you need assistance identifying an artwork, email public.art@mississauga.ca.

Send a photo of the artwork and the damaged area to public.art@mississauga.ca. City staff conduct periodic inspections of the artworks in our collection, but sometimes damage or vandalism occurs without our knowledge.

Contact

If you have questions or comments about the City’s public art, email public.art@misssissauga.ca.