About Public Art
A vibrant public art program reflects the identity of a city, gives voice to community and builds relationships between diverse groups. Public art enhances the urban environment by increasing the use and enjoyment of public space and building social cohesion. The exploration, through art, of the social, historical, cultural, and natural environment gives meaning to place and celebrates the unique character of Winnipeg, a city located on Treaty 1 Territory and the lands of the Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene Peoples and in the homeland of the Métis Nation.
The Winnipeg Arts Council works with City Administration, artists and communities to develop and integrate art into our public spaces where ideas can be encountered on a daily basis. In addition to artist commissions, infrastructure design projects and residencies in City departments, we facilitate community-based collaborations and public events.
Winnipeg's Public Art Program was recognized for demonstrating visionary leadership in Public Art programming with the Creative City Network of Canada's inaugural Award of Excellence in 2016. The award reinforces the broad respect for Winnipeg’s Public Art Program from local communities and artists, to national and international artists, to municipalities across Canada. The Program has been a model of best practices since its inception and has played a major role in making Winnipeg a leader in Public Art development and programming.
Calls-to-Artists for public art opportunities and announcements about events are made available online so please check often for updates, subscribe to the weekly e-Billboard, or contact tamara rae biebrich, Senior Project Manager - Public Art at 204.943.7668 or [email protected]
Gallery of Public Artworks
Visit the Gallery of Public Artworks to find out more about projects that are in progress or completed.
Explore Winnipeg's Public Art with our printable guidebook. Free copies are available at our office, libraries, museums and more.
Artworks for public spaces are initiated by the Winnipeg Arts Council and commissioned through Requests for Proposals and/or Requests for Qualifications. Sites are determined through discussion and collaboration with the City of Winnipeg. The Winnipeg Arts Council develops projects based on site parameters, natural and historical factors and conceptual considerations. Calls-to-Artists are posted online as opportunities are developed.
WITH ART and Youth WITH ART
WITH ART matches artists with community groups to work on community identity, issues, and shared goals through the development of an art project. The project unfolds in two phases as the artists consult with community members to determine the goals of the art project. In the second phase, the artwork is developed more fully and created in collaboration with the community. Once completed the artworks are celebrated in a public launch. Applications from community groups and artists are sought in January each year.
The program was expanded in 2013 by adding a specifically youth-focused component. Youth WITH ART was developed in response to priorities identified in Our Winnipeg and Ticket to the Future, Phase 2, to promote lifelong arts learning and youth engagement in arts activities. Supported through funding from WAC’s operating budget, and building on the success of WITH ART, Youth WITH ART follows the same community-engaged process but with a focus on youth aged 6 to 21.
A Program Description is downloadable here for more information.
View WITH ART projects, and the rest of WAC initiated public art, here.
The Winnipeg Arts Council initiates an Artist-in-Residence program where artists are placed in City of Winnipeg facilities for periods of time that vary in length from six to eighteen months. The goal of the program is to integrate artists and their ideas into City facilities to explore civic resources and history through the creative process. Artists are provided with an artist fee as they research, engage with the public and develop a project proposal. A commission fee is also provided for the creation of a permanent work of art for the site. Artist-in-Residence projects have taken place at the Living Prairie Museum (2006-07) where video artist Collin Zipp created a non-narrative interactive video work entitled lost_landscape now on display in the Museum’s interpretive centre. This was followed by a project at the City of Winnipeg Archives where filmmaker Paula Kelly made Souvenirs, a short documentary that explores Winnipeg’s identity in three distinct ways. In 2009, songwriter and musician Christine Fellows developed Reliquary/Reliquaire a multidisciplinary performance that included music, film and visual art while in residence at Le Musée de St. Boniface Museum. Erica Swendrowski was selected as Artist-in-Residence in Public Works in 2010 where she worked with community gardens, creating outdoor living rooms in several gardens throughout the city as well as installing Marbles on Portage, a series of sculptures lining the median and planters on Portage Avenue.
Collaborations with Other Partners
Art projects for public spaces are developed with other agencies such as the Bike Racks on Broadway, created with the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ and the Exchange District Posterboard Project, a collaboration with the Exchange District BIZ. Watershed was commissioned in collaboration with the Old St. Vital BIZ. The Archambault Performance Pavilion was a partnership with the Transcona BIZ and YOU YOU + YOU was created in collaboration with the United Way of Winnipeg.
History of Winnipeg’s Program
“We need art, in the arrangements of cities as well as in the other realms of life, to help explain life to us, to show us meanings, to illuminate the relationship between the life that each of us embodies and the life outside us.”
- Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities
Winnipeg is well known for its lively and progressive contemporary art community but until 2004 did not have a program or resources in place specifically for creating artworks in public places. That changed in 2004 when a new public art policy, developed by the Winnipeg Arts Council, was formally adopted by the City of Winnipeg. With the policy’s adoption came the release of funding allocated for the program. Unlike many North American cities, Winnipeg’s public art funding is not based on a percentage of capital development project budgets, but on an annual grant from the City’s capital budget.
The City of Winnipeg Public Art Policy is the result of the work of the Mayor’s Task Force on Public Art, formed by Mayor Glen Murray in May 2002 to research public art policy and programs in other municipalities, consult with experts in the field of public art, meet with City staff, and conduct a public education and consultation process in Winnipeg.
The public art program was an exciting addition to WAC’s role in Winnipeg’s art community and, through its national competitions, to the broader Canadian environment as well. The program is managed by a WAC staff member and overseen by a volunteer Public Art Committee composed of artists, art educators and administrators, curators, design professionals, community members, and a representative from the City’s Planning Department as well as a WAC board member. WAC works closely with various departments of the City, especially the Planning, Property and Development Department, to administer the program and to determine sites and ensure that safety and other technical guidelines are met. Competition proposals are reviewed by independent selection committees made up of artists and art professionals as well as community representatives. Integral to the development of the policy and program is respect for the work of artists. Public art can involve a wide variety of people and professions, perspectives and parameters. WAC believes that the work of the artist is central.
Since Winnipeg’s Public Art Policy was formally adopted by City Council on October 27, 2004, in a unanimous vote, the program has evolved into a nationally-recognized one that is diverse in expression, scale, media and locale. The goal is to insert the work of artists into city life where ideas can be encountered on a daily basis. The program consists of: local, national and international commissions; artist-on-design team in infrastructure approaches; an Artist-in-Residence in City facilities; a community-based program entitled WITH ART; and various partnership endeavours.
Public Art Committee
The Public Art Committee is charged by the Winnipeg Arts Council with providing advice to the public art program and is a sub-committee of the Board of Directors. This volunteer committee comprises ten to twelve Winnipeg arts professionals and community members, including artists, arts administrators, curators, educators, urban planners, architects and landscape architects as well as a member of the board of directors of the Winnipeg Arts Council and representation from the City’s Planning and Property Development Department. Responsibilities include the review, and provision of advice on, public art policies and procedures and the identification, review and recommendation of public art opportunities and proposals. The Committee meets approximately three times a year and members serve one to three-year terms. Working with the Committee’s recommendations and support, WAC staff manage all aspects of the program.
Lee Caldwell is the Senior Urban Designer for the City of Winnipeg working in the Planning, Property and Development Department. She possesses considerable public and private sector experience with the administration, development and delivery of a range of design services and programs. In her current position with the Urban Design and Heritage Unit she leads design review with an emphasis on downtown development projects and manages the Urban Design Advisory Committee. Lee attended the University of Manitoba and completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Landscape Architecture. She has recently undertaken continuing education studies in both urban design and heritage conservation. Lee is a member of the Manitoba Association of Landscape Architects and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.
Sarah Crawley is an artist who's work explores aspects of memory, identity and non-verbal communication. She is interested in memory’s impact on identity and the non-verbal ways that identity is communicated. She is interested as well in objects or situations that indicate the human touch – things made or done by hand. Crawley uses many different photographic processes to create images with each body of work dictating the processes involved. Crawley has exhibited across Canada in solo and group exhibitions as well as internationally. She enjoys sharing her passion for photography and is an active member of the visual art community in Winnipeg.
Monica Giesbrecht (past chair) is a principal with Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram Landscape Architecture and Planning. Her ongoing investigation of the social, physical and psychological impacts of human environments on children and youth, immigrants and marginalized groups, aging and physically impaired, serves as a foundation for her progressive work on educational grounds, urban spaces, parks, culturally sensitive lands and healthcare facilities. Monica combines her human-centric people-driven approach to design with a dedication to practical place-specific construction solutions to enhance Winnipeggers quality of life, sense of place and environmental stewardship. Some of Monica’s most recent projects in the city include The Variety Heritage Adventure Park at The Forks National Historic Site, The Millennium Library Park, and The Winnipeg Humane Society Grounds. As an avid supporter of art in the public realm, Monica regularly travels to research new developments in other places while working with artists and artisans to enrich her work at home.
Christina Harris has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Concordia University in Montreal as well as a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from University of Manitoba. She taught in Studio Programs at the Winnipeg Art gallery for several years and participated in the Mentoring Artists for Women's Art program. Recently, she worked with Hilderman Thomas Frank Cram Landscape Architects and Planners for five years before starting at the City of Winnipeg in the Planning and Land Use Division in the fall of 2003.
Tom Janzen is a professional planner with a background in urban development, land use policy, and strategic planning. He's an Associate with Scatliff + Miller + Murray Inc. and Principal of his own consulting practice, TVJ Projects. He is a former Development Manager with CentreVenture Development Corporation and previous to that he was an Associate with The Planning Partnership, a leading planning and urban design firm in Toronto. As a consultant, he’s been involved in Public Art Master Plans for the Town of Richmond Hill, City of Hamilton, and City of Lethbridge. Tom serves on the boards of Border Crossings Magazine and Westminster Housing Society.
Jason Kun is a principal architect at 1x1 architecture inc. who were recognized in the July 2017 of Canadian Architect Magazine as an ‘emerging talent’. In his work, Jason strives to produce thoughtful, timeless architecture focused on delivering refined spaces and places. The result is award-winning work that prioritizes placemaking, people and experience.
Niki Little is a mother, softball coach, artist/observer, arts administrator and a founding member of The Ephemerals (random order). She is of Oji-Cree/English descent from Garden Hill, Treaty 5 territory. Her interests lay in artistic and curatorial strategies that investigate cultural consumerism, Indigenous Matriarchy, and cultural Diaspora with the slightest hint of ambivalence. She is the Distribution Coordinator at the Winnipeg Film Group and the Interim-Director for the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition. Little is on the board of directors for the Independent Media Arts Alliance (national) and the Manitobah Mukluks Storyboot School (local). From August 2015 to January 2016, she was the Indigenous Curator in Residence, launched by aceartinc and the Aboriginal Curatorial Collective and curated the group exhibition enendaman | anminigook (Intention | Worth).
Gurpreet Sehra is a multidisciplinary artist who works in traditional and contemporary media, including painting, video, printmaking, and installation. In her current practice, she uses Dutch wax prints to examine trauma, gender, and cultural appropriation. She recently completed her first public art commission in Winnipeg, titled Close Commons. She has an MFA from the University of Manitoba and a BA from the University of Toronto. She has taught visual art privately and at the university level in Toronto and Winnipeg. She also serves on the board of Mentoring Artists for Women's Art and the Manitoba Arts Council. Gurpreet was born and brought up in the Greater Toronto Area. She has lived and worked in Winnipeg for over 5 years.
Jennifer Smith is a Métis curator, writer, and arts administrator from Treaty One Territory. She works at Video Pool Media Arts Centre as the Distribution Manager. Jennifer is the President of the board for the Coalition of Canadian Independent Media Art Distributors that runs VUCAVU.com and sits on the board of the National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition and Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts. Jennifer has curated exhibits and video programs for the Manitoba Craft Council, Video Pool Media Arts Centre, Open City Cinema, MAWA, the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, and in 2018 was the Indigenous Curator in Residence at aceartinc.
Marlene Stern is actively engaged in the arts community as a volunteer, consumer, and supporter. She has served on the Boards of Directors of the Winnipeg Arts Council, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Alumni Association, University of Manitoba, and the Manitoba Mental Health Research Foundation. She is the Regional Director of Occupational Therapy, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority. Prior to that, she was the Director of Occupational Therapy at Health Sciences Centre for over 15 years. Within her profession, Marlene has served on many local and national committees, published, and presented numerous papers on a variety of topics at national and international conferences.
As a cultural executive, Carol Phillips (Executive Director, Winnipeg Arts Council) has been successful in arts administration, program creation, and management at the senior leadership level and in arts-related positions. She has effectively directed a multi-disciplinary arts environment specializing in professional development and production, with additional extended experience in visual arts and the art museum.
As Director of Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art in Winnipeg, she has overseen management of Canada's representation to the 2001 Venice Biennale and has worked to position the ICA for program and facility expansion.
From 1992 to 2000, Carol Phillips was Vice-President and Director of the Banff Centre for the Arts. She was responsible for maintaining the Centre's international reputation as a leader in the professional development and advanced training of artists from Canada and around the world. Carol brought to the Centre a passion for the arts and a strong track record in arts management, innovative program development, project creation, and community relations. She remains concerned with pushing the boundaries of art forms in Canada; adding new layers while preserving and enlivening worthy traditions. She has made the creation of Aboriginal arts programs a priority in each institution with which she has been associated. Most recently, international relations were a preoccupation in a project of brokering international agreements for Banff with countries in Europe and Latin America.
Previously, she directed the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Norman Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina; presiding over a period of transformation for the Winnipeg Art Gallery into one of Canada's most progressive regional galleries, and earlier preparing the Mackenzie for its new constitution and new building.
Carol has been a jurist and advisor for arts boards, councils, and cultural agencies across Canada and internationally. For six years she was Chair of the Subcommission for Culture and the World Decade for Cultural Development, Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and has represented Canada at many UNESCO international gatherings. Awarded the Queen's Jubilee Medal, 2002.
tamara rae biebrich is Senior Public Art Project Manager for the Winnipeg Arts Council. She works with City administration, communities, and artists to integrate art in Winnipeg’s public spaces. With a BFA from the University of Manitoba, her socially-engaged art practice has included performance, drawing, printmaking, craft and volunteerism. Her works have been presented in galleries, at festivals and less conventional venues.