Finding an artist

Finding an artist(s) in any particular artform is central to the commissioning process. There are different approaches to sourcing an artist such as an open submission competition, a limited competition or a direct commission. It is also possible to purchasing existing work or have an existing work adapted for a new context. Assistance can be sought from curatorial expertise in different disciplines who can input on many levels throughout the process from advice to management.

Commissioners of public art can consider many different types of outcomes - from permanent artworks to more open and process-based responses in any medium or form that might be developed through a period of research, exchange or through a residency.

While it is important to have clarity around what is being sought, it is also advisable not to narrow down options that support artistic ambition and contemporary practice. 

Communications - new thinking

Communications are integral to the art process
The communication of public commissions requires careful consideration. Open competitions provide opportunities for new entrants into the commissioning field. However this method is unattractive to a significant number of artists, commissioners and agents. It can also be costly and time-consuming. Where a competitive process is undertaken, open, fair and transparent processes are expected. This includes appropriate advertising and procurement methods, rigorous and accountable assessment procedures and in all aspects of commissions, adequate provision for appeal and response. Once appointed, artists welcome an opportunity to introduce the nature of their practice and engage in a process that commences with building relationships.

Commissions may have a primary and a secondary audience. For instance, Sligo Local Authorities' commission of Laura Gannon's Underswim was first presented within the group with whom she worked before it became part of the County art collection. Site-specific premiers may translate into a touring process. Carpet Theatre's 50 Ways to Leave Dun Laoghaire was specific to those travelling in/out of this location but would not easily translate inland.

Web-based and alternative non-arts outlets, including journals and broadcasting, provide for wider appreciation of the project. Sometimes the method of dissemination is the practice, and a core part of the art process, involving artists directly in the articulation of accompanying material. Catalogues become artist's books, programme tickets become collector's items, radio conversations become the work itself. Discourse arising from a work makes work.


  • Establish method and leadership in engagement - method of selection of artist, invited, limited or open competition, engagement of artistic director, agent, organisation, group, partner
  • Agree effective communication process with people
  • Communicate effectively with artist/arts sector, ensuring access to those    interested, taking into account abilities, origins, interests, applicant needs
  • Create conditions in which the artwork can speak for itself
  • Communicate developments in relation to the project to the wider public
  • Be imaginative in all communications



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Nazareth Housing Association provides independent living houses for individuals and couples who are 65 and over and on the Sligo County Council housing list.  Nazareth Village is comprised of 48 houses in a garden setting.  The Village was financed as a public-private partnership between Nazareth Housing Association and Sligo County Council with funding from the Department of Environment, Community and Local Government.  

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