Rendering of Pier 62 from Overlook Walk

Image by James Corner Field Operations courtesy of the City of Seattle

Seattle Waterfront Virtual Artist‑in‑Residence Program Applications Due

Friday May 29, 2020, 12 am
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Call For Applications

Future Forward Seattle Waterfront Virtual Arts Residency

2020 Call For Applications: Seattle Waterfront Virtual Artist-in-Residence

Seattle’s future Waterfront Park is more than a park — it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity where the community’s values, vision, and investments align to achieve lasting economic, social and environmental value — now, and for the benefit of future generations.

In response to the economic stresses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and in an effort to support artists, the City of Seattle, under #SeattleTogether, is assisting partner organizations to provide funding for artistic endeavors. Friends of Waterfront Seattle is supporting this effort with a virtual artist residency and additional artist opportunities.


Friends of Waterfront Seattle (“Friends”), in partnership with the City of Seattle’s Office of the Waterfront and Civic Projects, is seeking an artist, artist team, or collaborative to develop a program of art opportunities for a range of artists to activate the Seattle waterfront. The selected artist or artistic collaboration shall be in virtual residence for a 90-day period to lead a process with the aforementioned partners, that incorporates elements of the Seattle Waterfront Art Plan and guide a broader call for artist submissions for late Summer/Fall 2020 art installations, activities, and activations. The broader call is funded by a partnership between the City and Friends. The selected resident artist will work with the partners to develop a program to award $100,000 in funding made available for this program and in support of #SeattleTogether initiative, a partnership among the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, Office of Arts & Culture, Office of Economic Development, Seattle Public Library and the Mayor’s Innovation and Performance Team coming together to build a city-wide Covid-19 community response plan. Guided by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture’s commitment to racial equity and upholding an anti-racist practice that centers the creativity of leadership on people of color, the Artist-in-Residence will work with Friends to ensure that this virtual opportunity engages a diverse range of artists, especially those representing communities of color and historically underrepresented communities.

Scope of Work

Since the Seattle Waterfront Art Plan was developed in 2012, much has changed yet the plan continues to offer foundational guidance. Using this information for inspiration and relevant direction, the virtual artist-in-residence will provide leadership for creating and implementing immediate opportunities for arts and cultural programming and activation, while also developing additional frameworks for future artist engagement. The selected artist or team will:

  • Be the lead in developing and implementing a creative process that results in a framework for engagement with additional artists in a range of media and disciplines.
  • Establish a theme and framework for the artist submissions and project implementation process, illuminating the value and impact of a reimagined waterfront
  • Recognize the need for rapid response in relationship to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Develop strategies and accountability procedures to ensure that artists and performers of color are engaged, and supported in participating in this program
  • Implement an artist selection process, including: development of the submission criteria, submission, selection, and implementation guidelines and processes
  • Work with Friends and City partners to explore creative and feasible solutions for adjusting to arts planning under new public gathering guidelines
  • Be opportunistic in creative and curatorial approaches to waterfront activation opportunities engaging multiple artistic disciplines and a diversity of art makers
  • Manage the available $100,000 budget for implementing selected immediate and longer-term commissions for installations, activities, and activations

This virtual Residency will be implemented in full partnership with Friends of Waterfront Seattle, City of Seattle, and community partners. Friends will provide administrative support.


Friends of Waterfront Seattle is the nonprofit partner to the City of Seattle responsible for helping to fund, build, steward, and program the new Waterfront Park – today and into the future. The operations of the future Waterfront Park will be carried out by Friends and Seattle Parks & Recreation (“SPR”) through a joint-delivery model, with SPR responsible for horticulture and basic maintenance and Friends providing programming of the public spaces with cultural, recreational, and educational activities designed by and for all communities and cultures.

Park construction has begun following the Alaskan Way Viaduct’s removal and the first piece of the park — Pier 62 — will open this year. The Covid-19 pandemic has meant that the Pier 62 opening is somewhat delayed and is now targeted for Summer/Fall 2020.

With the recognition that park programming in the near term will need to respond to a “new normal” created by the pandemic, and that public health officials will likely recommend continued social distancing for the foreseeable future, the virtual residency brings to life the significance that the arts play in our daily lives as well as in our ability to be “in community.” This residency elevates the voice of artists in creating civic programs. This program also aligns with the City of Seattle’s efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on its communities, and supports #SeattleTogether.

Coinciding with the opening of Pier 62, Friends is partnering with the City of Seattle Office of Waterfront and Civic Projects (OWCP) and have matched funds to support an artist call to fund temporary art projects, which will be launched in conjunction with this newly created 90-day Artist Residency Program funded by Friends. The Artist Residency Program is a pilot that could scale over time, continuing throughout the life of the park.

This residency is a step toward maintaining forward movement in the development of a waterfront that is beautiful, culturally vibrant, accessible, and most importantly – welcoming for all. Funding for this project is provided in part by 1% for Art funds generated by the OWCP’s construction of the waterfront.

The Residency and Call to Artists

In light of the recent impacts from both the spread of COVID-19 and the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” mandate by Washington’s Governor, Friends recognizes the importance of a rapid response plan that continues to explore and lead strategies supporting the long-term health of Seattle’s future Waterfront Park while also creating immediate opportunities for local artists to apply their creativity to responsive solutions. The residency program is intended to engage artists at the forefront of creative solutions and embrace a process for employing creative solutions that envision a waterfront arts program that is artist-driven and audience-minded in approach, is inclusive and welcoming of a diversity of thought and approaches, and that is responsive and adaptable to changing public gathering norms.

The future Waterfront Park will greatly enhance our nearshore ecosystem; be a catalyst for new, diverse cultural and civic experiences; generate new economic opportunities for people with limited financial resources; and connect people to our urban shoreline and to Elliott Bay in ways that reinforce a sense of shared community, values, and stewardship. The future park also provides a unique opportunity to embrace and honor the significance of WATER to the community of Indigenous First People while helping all of us better understand the ways in which our beloved waterfront is a place for healing, enjoyment, and education.


  • Artists with an interest in helping to shape renewed civic, cultural, natural environment and economic engagement opportunities
  • Artists with the ability to connect and lead a creative process with a diverse group of teams and individuals
  • Artists with the ability to collaborate with a range of individuals and organizations.
  • Artists with time to dedicate to a creative process that does not necessarily include making art
  • Artists with the ability to and interest in looking outside of established parameters to create new norms
  • Artists with a desire to share their creative intellect in new and exciting ways
  • Artists who are comfortable working with a range of artistic mediums and a diversity of artistic makers


The initial residency is 90 days. The virtual residency does not require the full physical presence of the artist, rather, is intended to embed creative leadership as a critical team member for solutions-oriented strategy development. A vital element of the residency will be to lead development and implementation of outreach and engagement strategies that appeal to a diverse group of artistic respondents.


This residency will result in development of a creative and responsive structure for immediate and longer-term engagement with a diversity of artists and creative makers for activation of the revitalized Seattle waterfront.


The budget for the selected artist, team or collaborative will be a total of $10,000, all-inclusive, for the 90-day residency. An additional budget has been identified for subsequent artist opportunities.


Artists residing and working primarily in the Seattle/Puget Sound area, including King, Kitsap, Pierce, Thurston, Skagit, Snohomish and Island Counties. All eligible applicants must reside in Washington State.

This residency is intended to attract artists with strong relationships to the immediate waterfront area, while also recognizing that many artists are no longer able to reside in close proximity to the Seattle waterfront.

Application Guidelines:

  • Please write a short statement within 100 words on how you would approach this residency opportunity. What is your vision for this residency?
  • Include a brief statement about your experience leading large-scale public projects with a variety of partners.
  • Tell us about your experience working with diverse groups and how you approach these opportunities.
  • Provide 3 references including those with knowledge of your leadership skills, experience working on time and on budget, and ability to work with other artists and organizations
  • You may share up to 5 work samples.


Applications are due Friday, May 29, 2020. To enter, click here.

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