STEPS Public Art

For 2023, STEPS Public Art is partnering with the City of Fort St. John, with the support of the Fort St. John Arts Council, to support the development of a new temporary public artwork that will be exhibited in the Summer/Fall of 2023.

Are you, or an artist you know, interested in gaining experience, building networks and professional skills needed to launch or expand a community-engaged public art practice?

STEPS believes public art has the ability to challenge the systemic inequities that exist in public space. In support of this important work, we facilitate programs that: foster inclusive public art practices, build the capacity of underrepresented artists in Canadian public art and demonstrate the power of community-engaged art to reimagine equitably designed cities.

We are thrilled to launch the 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency, a national public art program designed in collaboration with advisors from coast to coast, to provide emerging Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and racialized artists with the skills, relationships and practical experiences needed to build and advance community engaged public art practices.

This virtual residency is open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space, who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) or racialized, interested in participating in a virtual residency from March through December 2023. This partnership between STEPS and the City of Fort St. John will see one Fort St. John-based artist selected for this opportunity by a selection panel composed of members of the arts community who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) or racialized. Program components will be offered primarily in English, with translation and ASL services available as needed to support the participation of a diverse community of artists.

There will be a total of ten artists in residence selected for the 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency program, with one spot reserved for this unique partnership. If selected for this particular call, you will join the other program participants in virtual workshops, planned residency activities and programming.

From STEPS, 2023 the CreateSpace participating artist will receive:

  • Skills: virtual workshops, artist talks and studio visits for greater understanding of the public art process through the lens of Community, Identity, Accessibility, and Land, including: demystifying public art RFPs, exploring fabrication and approaches to public engagement.
  • Relationships: opportunities to connect with public art practitioners from across the country, cultivating professional networks in various sectors and industries.
  • Practical Experience: creating new community-engaged public art work with tailored coaching from STEPS staff and artistic advisors, through which experimentation is encouraged.
  • Public Audiences: through promotional support leveraging STEPS and partner network, as well as supports to document and present past and current public work.
  • Financial Support: artists will each receive individual support valued at up to $5000 CAD, inclusive of a $1500 participation honourarium as well as production, documentation, engagement and accessibility supports.

From the City of Fort St. John, the 2023 CreateSpace participating artist will receive:

  • Assistance with identifying a site for the public artwork;
  • Assistance with securing any required permits;
  • An additional honorarium of $2,000 CAD;
  • A material and production stipend, to a maximum of $3,000 CAD based on the approved site confirmation and production plan;
  • Promotional support during the course of the project.

Twenty artists and artist teams from across the country participated in the program’s first two years, with each participant acquiring valuable skills in the field of public art. Each artist created unique and inspiring public artworks that ranged from experimental to performative to sculptural. Visit the CreateSpace Public Art Residency webpage to learn more about these artists and their projects.

Applicants must be a Canadian citizen, or Permanent Resident to qualify for this opportunity. Interested applicants must submit their expressions of interest by Sunday, February 19, 2023 at 11:59 PM PST. Those living outside of the Pacific time zone are encouraged to use a timezone converter to ensure your application is received by the deadline.

The CreateSpace Residency is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Race Relations Foundation and TD Bank Group.

Additional Details

Participating artists, with the support of STEPS staff and program mentors, are expected to:

  • Attend at least 10 of approx. 15 residency sessions held over 10 months which will include: workshops, artist talks, panel discussions facilitated discussions, studio visits, etc. We estimate each session to be an hour to an hour and a half time commitment per session. These sessions will run primarily between 1 - 8 PM EST, Monday through Saturday;
  • Identify and execute a community engaged public art project by the end of the residency;
  • While participating artists are NOT expected to have well thought out plans for a public art project at the time of their application, having a project concept and clearly defined learning objectives for advancing your public art practice are important to make the most of the support that STEPS and CreateSpace partners can provide;
  • Participate in ongoing program evaluation that will help shape the CreateSpace Public Art Residency and other artist capacity building programming;
  • Respect the time and knowledge of CreateSpace advisors, mentors, staff and fellow participating artists, by committing to cultivate a safe, inclusive, supportive and respectful space for learning, exploration and growth.

Key program dates:

  • Application Deadline: Sunday, February 19, 2023 11:59 PM PST
  • Selected Artist Announced: March 2023
  • Residency Programming: March - December 2023
    • Facilitated Sessions: March - November 2023
    • Public Artwork Production & Installation Period: June – September 2023
    • Artwork exhibition and Unveiling: October 2023
    • Documentation & Audience Development: June - November 2023
    • Program Reflection & Wrap: December 2023

How to Apply

To apply, please fill out the application form by Sunday, February 19, 2023 at 11:59 PM PST. PLEASE NOTE: Applicants cannot save the form and return to complete it at a later time. We strongly recommend downloading the following form and saving your answers on a separate document before filling out the online form.

We encourage all applicants to visit the STEPS website before preparing this application to have a better understanding of the organization that will be facilitating this residency. Answers to Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for the CreateSpace Public Art Residency program are below.

We encourage applications from all qualified candidates that represent the full diversity of communities in Canada, including complexities of intersecting identities such as ability, class, gender, race and sexual orientation. We are particularly interested in receiving applications from equity-deserving communities, such as those who identify as two-spirit, trans, Indigiqueer, Afro-Indigenous, as well as individuals living with a disability.

Applicants who are Deaf, have a disability, or who need support applying for this opportunity are encouraged to contact Belinda Uwase at or call 416.366.6565 ex. 2 at least two weeks before the application deadline (by Friday, January 27, 2023) to allow STEPS to appropriately accommodate your needs and to discuss alternate formats for submitting your application.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is CreateSpace?

STEPS is committed to amplifying the voices of Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis), Black, newcomer, LGBTQQIP2SAA+, racialized, disabled & equity-deserving artists. CreateSpace is a suite of programming developed by STEPS in collaboration with our national advisory network aimed at cultivating mentorship, training and paid creation opportunities for equity-deserving artists that simultaneously demonstrates the ability of public artists to reimagine equitably designed cities.

The CreateSpace Public Art Residency aims to connect emerging and mid-career artists across the country who are interested in exploring and activating public space in their communities, fostering connections and cultivating conversations around social equity in city-building and design while also inspiring broader dialogue on equitable representation in public art. This Residency was launched in 2021 as a signature program of our CreateSpace offerings.

Who has been involved in shaping the CreateSpace Public Art Residency?

This program has been designed in collaboration with a national advisory network and programming has been delivered in collaboration with cultural leaders and institutions from coast to coast. Some of our outreach and program delivery partners to date have included: Arts Accessibility Network Manitoba; ArtsBC; ArtsBuild Ontario; Arts Fund Yukon; Black Speculative Arts Movement (BSAM) Canada; Cultural Pluralism in the Arts Ontario; Klondike Institute of Art and Culture; MAWA, MU Montreal; National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC), NIA Centre for the Arts and Neighborhood Arts Network.

Special thanks to the following previous contributors:

  • Advisors: ​​Sidi Chen, Jamaias DaCosta, Queen Kukoyi, Sean Lee, Tash Naveau, Charles Smith, Jennifer Smith, Nico Taylor, David Turnbull, Niki Little, Ufuk Gueray, Charmaine Lurch and Yvette Cenerini
  • Artistic Mentors: Aliza Zorlutuna, Andre Kan, Golboo Amani, Hiba Abdallah, Javid Alibhai, Quentin VerCetty Lindsay, Yen Linh Thai, Zongwe Binesikwe, Ammar Mahimwalla, Sanaz Mazinani and Mani Mazinani
  • Programming Collaborators: Adriana Alarcon, Meagan Byrne, Yvette Cenerini, Michel Dumont, Alica Hall, Bracken Hanuse-Corlett Franchesca Hebert-Spence, Samar Hejazi, Ammar Mahimwalla, Bruce Naokwegijig, Philip Ocampo, PUFF Paddy, Winnie Truong, Florence Yee, Yung Yemi, Bo Yeung, Jenel Shaw, Queen Kukoyi, Salima Punjani, Ysabelle Vautour, Lindsey Lickers, Jaime Calayo, Kayla Bernard, Katie Buckley, Nuff, and Miriam Arbus

Finally, the reflections shared by participating artists from the CreateSpace Residency have been invaluable in shaping the 2023 program.

How does STEPS define public art?

Public art is art in any media whose form, function and meaning are created for the general public, is publicly accessible and aims to engage and/or reflect the local community, general public or surrounding area.

How will applications be assessed?

Residency spots will be awarded on a competitive basis by a review committee of Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and racialized public art practitioners from across Canada. Review committee members have been selected on the basis of their familiarity with a broad spectrum of public art practices, specialized expertise, fair-mindedness, and regional representation. The committee will assess applications based on: clarity of learning objectives and/or public art project concept; alignment with needs and residency supports; and merit of applicant’s arts practice.

How long is the 2023 CreateSpace Residency term?

The 2023 CreateSpace Residency term is 10 months total, taking place from March to December 2023.

What types of facilitated sessions does the Residency offer?

While these sessions will in part be finalized after 2023 participating artists are selected to ensure that they reflect the needs and interests of the program cohort, we anticipate that they will include a combination of capacity building workshops, artist talks, studio visits, artist-led panel discussions and industry connectivity opportunities that enable artists to connect with public art practitioners and each other on a variety of topics relevant to public art.

What is the production period mentioned in the call for artists?

The timeline for the residency’s production period runs from June to October 2023. During this time, CreateSpace participating artists will work with mentors and STEPS staff to further develop their concepts, installation plans and engagement strategy, while independently fabricating their public artworks. The production period will culminate in the installation of a temporary public artwork within the artists' community and involve an unveiling (if applicable) and documentation. During the production period, artists will also meet monthly as a cohort to explore themes and issues related to public art and their individual career paths through various programming opportunities.

Will artists be responsible for identifying their public artwork’s installation site?

Yes. Participating artists will be asked to identify potential sites for their works to be installed. STEPS staff and mentors will support this process and do their best to help the artist to secure the final installation site for their public artworks.

Does the public artwork created need to be permanent or temporary?

The length of the installation will depend on the installation site and its property owners, among other factors. Still, participating artists will be encouraged to produce temporary public artworks during the 2023 CreateSpace Residency term.

What is expected of me while I’m at the residency?

The CreateSpace Public Art Residency is a project-oriented program, so participating artists will focus their efforts on the production of a public artwork in their community during the program.  CreateSpace is also focused on network building and education so artists-in-residents will be required to attend at least 10 virtual residency sessions over the course of ten (10) months, including: workshops, artist talks, facilitated discussions, studio visits, etc.

What if I need to leave the residency early? Can I apply for a shorter/longer residency?

Unfortunately, the 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency requires a ten (10) month time commitment (March to December 2023) from participating artists, with no opportunity to delay or extend your participation in the program.

How does the “virtual residency format” work?

Participating artists will be required to attend monthly virtual group cohort gatherings, one-on-one check-ins with the program coordinator, and meet with their mentors to develop their individual public artworks and identify areas of additional support. CreateSpace participating artists will need to have access to a strong internet connection and an internet-connected device (for example: computer, tablet, smartphone, or similar) to participate in this residency. If you are unsure about your ability to participate in this program due to your current tech set up, please contact Belinda Uwase at or call 416.366.6565 ex. 2.

I have a full-time job - can I still be a resident artist?

Yes. Resident artists often have full or part-time jobs to support their studio practice. Ultimately, you want to ensure your schedule supports you getting the most out of this residency.

If I have already applied to other artist residencies for 2023 or if I plan on travelling over the next 12 months, can I also apply to this program?

Yes. However, if you think your other residencies or travels would keep you away for extended periods of time or affect your active participation in CreateSpace, you might want to reconsider if this program is the best fit for you at this time.

Could you clarify the accessibility timeline for additional accessibility support for this application process?

Applicants who are Deaf, have a disability, or who need support applying for this opportunity are encouraged to contact Belinda Uwase at at least two weeks before the application deadline (Tuesday, January 17, 2023) to allow STEPS to appropriately accommodate your needs and to discuss alternate formats for submitting your application.

What accessibility support will be available to participating artists throughout the program?

STEPS will provide ASL Interpretation, closed captioning and language translation with ample notice.

Any material restrictions?

The 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency will be facilitated virtually so it will be up to individual participating artists to identify what materials can or cannot be used in their workspace. If you are renting a studio space in your area we recommend checking your studio’s health and safety guide for further details. If you’re unsure about any materials, please contact Belinda Uwase at

What types of disciplines are appropriate for this residency?

All artistic disciplines are appropriate for this residency, from 2D media like drawing and painting to installation and sculpture to performance and new technologies.

When are applications open?

Applications opened in early January 2023.

Are applications open to international artists?

No, unfortunately the 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency is only open to Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space, who identify as Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) and/or racialized and are legally able to work within Canada.

What do you consider an “emerging public artist” to be?

To us at STEPS Public Art, the question of whether or not one is considered “emerging” is addressed in terms of an artist’s own personal practice, which is unique to each individual. This term does not necessarily reflect one’s age or level of recognition they may have achieved outside of their “public art practice.” We ask applicants to self-identify.

I’m a mid-career or established artist, should I still apply?

Yes! The 2023 CreateSpace Public Art Residency is open to early to mid-career Canadian-based visual and media artists working in public space. For example, if you already have an established studio practice but have had little to no experience with public art, this opportunity is open to you.

Can I get feedback on my application if my application is unsuccessful?

No. Unfortunately, due to a high volume of applications, we will not be able to provide feedback on unsuccessful applications.

How does the review process work?

Applicants are evaluated by a selection committee composed of practicing public artists and cultural sector leaders. CreateSpace participating artists will be selected based on the quality of their work, commitment to their practice, and the applicant’s expressed interest in being part of a national community of practicing artists who look to explore public space.

Who are the members of the selection committee for this residency?

While the list of selection committee members will not be announced before the selection of the 2023 CreateSpace participating artists, this 2023 Selection Committee is made up of a selection of Canada-based individuals, from arts professionals, leaders of equity-deserving arts organizations, organizations serving Black, Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) or communities of colour, as well as practicing artists with extensive experience with residencies or public art.