Request for Proposals
Calling Chicago Dancemakers
submissions closed

Art on theMART seeks Chicago-based artists and companies who have robust practices in visual art and dance to create an original moving-image artwork and accompanying audio to be projected as part of Art on theMART, an innovative public new media art platform. The projection(s) will be a part of Art on theMART’s 2022 season and will place a spotlight on Chicago’s vibrant art and culture landscape, in partnership with the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

Chicago’s dance and visual art practitioners have a rich history of mutual inspiration and collaboration. This commission provides a unique opportunity to honor Chicago’s dance history, present, and future with an inventive and experimental approach. Finalists will receive $1,000 to submit a full proposal that includes a video sample; the commissioned artist or artist collaboration will receive an award of up to $25,000.

Exhibition of the Work
The selected work(s) will be shown repeatedly in the context of Art on theMART’s public art program, and on view nightly for a designated time period TBD. The program will include a set of projections totaling about 30 minutes that shows twice per evening. Art on theMART’s projections are on view 7 days per week. The work will become exclusive to Art on theMART and part of its library of projections for at least 5 years. Additional contract details will be provided upon selection. 

Qualified finalists are: 

  • Individual professional visual artists who engage with dance disciplines and/or who present subject matter and themes in their work that directly address dance, dance history, and/or the blending of dance and other artistic genres. Individuals who are finalists can invite additional collaborators to join their team, however the award amount will not change. 
  • Collaborations of at least one professional time-based media artist and at least one professional dancer or dance company. Collaborative teams who are finalists can invite additional collaborators to join their team, however the award amount will not change. 
  • Based in the City of Chicago or individuals or organizations with a significant current affiliations with collaborators in the City of Chicago. 
  • Representative of the diversity of Chicago’s dance community 
  • Able to demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for time-based media. 
  • Able to demonstrate a proven history of multimedia projects. 
  • Able to meet deadlines and manifest complex art and design projects with many collaborators and stakeholders. 

Design Criteria
The selected work(s): 

  • Is an approximately 5-7 minute video and audio work to be integrated into the Art on theMART system and projected directly onto the river façade of theMART (formerly the Merchandise Mart). The content provider must secure and share permissions to use the video and audio with Art on theMART free of any royalties or other renumerations. 
  • Responds creatively to the idea of spotlighting Chicago’s vibrant dance community. 
  • Expresses diverse perspectives in terms of content and subject matter. 
  • Demonstrates attention to the surrounding natural and built environment of Chicago. 
  • Will have broad public appeal. 
  • Expresses the potential of the platform, especially with attention to video mapping. 
  • Has content appropriate for all audiences. 
  • Does not have incendiary or inappropriate content. 
  • Does not include branding, sponsorship credits, or messaging. Artist and dance company credits are permitted for display on the façade under guidelines to be provided to finalists by Art on theMART. 
  • Responds to the specificity of theMART façade: the presence of the windows, the surface materials and texture, the particular surface geometry and aspect-ratio and the ambient light and sound. In other words, the work demonstrates an understanding that the façade cannot be treated simply as a screen but as a site-specific platform address through at least some aspects of video projection mapping.* 

*Technical assistance: Through a third-party vendor, Art on theMART will provide limited technical support around video mapping capabilities, in addition to the 2-D and 3-D models and templates that are provided at the links below in the specifications section. 


  • The projection system includes 34 Christie Digital 4K30 Boxer projectors mounted above the Riverwalk just east of the bridge tower at the intersection of Franklin and Wacker.
    • Total number of projectors (active): 34 
    • Total Channels of Video: 3
    • Estimated projected area: 115,000 sq. ft.; 2.6 acres 
  • Technical Specifications
    • Delivered Format Expectations: 
    • Working Resolution: 6000 x 2620 px 
    • Codec – HAPQ 
    • Container – .mp4 
    • Frame rate – 30 fps 
    • Audio – embedded audio 
    • Mono 16 bit 44.1kh

Please view the links below for templates as well as a best practices guide. 

Artist Template – 2D 
Artist Template – 3D 
Content Specification and Guide 

Please note the following guidelines, including formal considerations, which are illustrated in at the above link. 

  • Type of work: Video, rather than adapted still images are strongly preferred. Please note that live footage presents legibility issue and is best when avoided or combined with animated effects. Accompanying audio is required and artists are responsible for securing any required permissions to rights for any images and sound. 
  • Remember the windows: The windows of the façade are “subbed out,” so that projected light does not enter the interior of theMART. Therefore, the façade of theMART cannot be considered as a flat screen. 
  • Legibility: Large blocks of solid colors in high contrast are more legible than detailed images with low contrast palettes. Animated designs work very well and live footage also works if careful attention is given to the amount of detail and color contrasts. These same principles apply to still images. 
  • Fit content to the building and leverage the building geometry: The projection coverage area is more than the rectangle of the façade but rather extends vertically up the three towers of the building, resulting in an interesting geometry.
  • Audio files provided by the selected artist(s) to accompany the video files will be played through permanent audio speakers located on the Riverwalk Jetty. 
  • The building features LED lights at the crown that will be coordinated to accompany projections. This will be directed and funded by theMART on top of the selection award. 
  • The system does not currently support live data feed, but theMART is open to discussing projects that include live feed that maintain the integrity of the platform and security of the system. 

Selection Process
Art on theMART will form a special selection committee, supplemental to its curatorial advisory board, that will include professionals in the dance industry. 

Phase 1: The selection committee will evaluate qualifications and potential for success on the platform. The selection committee will recommend up to five finalists to Art on theMART and its Curatorial Advisory Board. 

Art on theMART will invite these finalists to submit further materials, including a video sample, to complete their proposals. 

Phase 2: Art on theMART and its curatorial advisory board will review the finalists’ proposals and make the final selections for exhibition on the platform. 


  • Finalists will recover $1,000 upon delivery of a complete and on-time proposal. A maximum of five finalists will be selected. 
  • The selected artist(s) will be awarded a total of $25,000 payable in three installments associated with process milestones, which includes an artist fee and production costs of the project. If the project costs exceed $25,000, the artist(s) and/or its sponsor organization will be responsible for the balance. 
  • Projection equipment, technical adaptation and review, installation, maintenance and publicity costs to be covered by Art on theMART. 

All Candidates in phase 1 are required to submit the following materials at 

  1. A one-page, single-spaced project description that includes the concept, relevant experience, and how the proposal addresses the criteria. 
  2. CV and bios of each team member 
  3. Any supporting visual information, including links to websites, portfolios, relevant past work or any new images related to the concept. 

All Finalists in phase 2 are required to submit: 

  1. All of the above, PLUS: 
  2. A detailed project budget, including costs for artists’ fees and production of the video and audio files. If the project budget exceeds the $25,000 award, please explain how the balance will be funded. 
  3. A minimum 3-minute, maximum 10-minute animation/motion graphic that suggests the approach and style. The specs for the file will be provided to finalists in phase 2. 
  4. Music clip, or sample sounds that indicate the intended direction of the final audio 

in partnership with:


Process timeline:
Launch date: work will be on public view during one of the 2022 Art on theMART program seasons—spring, summer or fall—for a duration TBD but no less than 8 weeks. Work must be ready for the spring program in order to maintain maximum flexibility for programming.

August 9, 2021 Phase 1 submissions deadline
August 23, 2021 Finalists announced

September 20, 2021 Phase 2 submissions deadline
September 30, 2021 Final selection(s) announced
November 29, 2021 first partial sample video due for testing on building
December 6, 2021 second partial sample video due for testing on building
February 15, 2022 full video draft due (at exact full duration)
March 1, 2022 final full video and audio due
March 1-31, 2022 Building crown lighting design and integration with projection
After April 1, 2022/TBD Public launch–ready for April but could be programmed later in 2022.

Questions/Proposal Submissions:
Please address any inquiries and submit the required phase 1 proposal materials to Cynthia Noble, Executive Director, Art on theMART, [email protected] by 9:00am CT on Monday, August 9th, 2021.