Working with First Nations Artists

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Squamish Public Art Herons DT100

Application Process

  • Be prepared to seek diverse applications, even when artists don’t apply for RFQs because these lengthy, written documents may not be culturally adaptable to different cultures. Accommodate proposals with more visual elements, sketches, and make accommodations to support up and coming artist applications. This may be through working closely with artists to develop their proposals, or engaging a consultant to work with artists to develop their proposals and design documentation.
  • Selection committees should include Indigenous and non-Indigenous representatives
  • Some artists prefer honorarium cheques rather than submitting invoices, work with the artist to agree on such details

Finding Artists

  • Share artist call-outs through the Squamish Nation newsletters and Nch’kay’ Development Corporation
  • Contact artists directly, and consider asking them to recommend up and coming artists
  • First Nations Knowledge Keepers, artists, council members, and Elders receive many requests for their involvement in art and other projects, consultations, etc. Consider providing payment appropriate to the artist’s level for their development of a concept proposal (visit CARFAC to check appropriate artist compensation amounts)
  • Public art in Squamish should prioritize Squamish Nation artists and artists who do Coast Salish works, because platforms and opportunities need to be created for them to practice and show their works, and share their voices, which are works created for this land that we are on, as opposed to artists from other areas of BC/Canada or other Indigenous styles.

Applying a Cultural Lens

  • Consider appropriate cultural practices, such as the artist may request that red or yellow cedar is not treated so that carvings can eventually return to the earth, some works were meant to be burnt, or not photographed. Artists should be able to guide projects on cultural considerations
  • To incorporate any First Nations stories into projects the community needs to collaborate with the work and be the leaders of the work. It isn’t appropriate to use stories and have non-First Nations artists artistically represent these, without deep collaboration. 
  • Squamish language should be included where possible on plaques, descriptions, etc. Consult with the Squamish nation to have appropriate translations done
  • Community Resources

Other Resources

Artwork Requests

Are you a business looking to submit a Request for Proposal for public art? Click the button below to fill out the RFP form.