Public Art Project: Denver Performing Arts Complex
Budget: $387,000 USD
Eligibility: Artists or Artist Teams residing in the United States and internationally
DEADLINE: Monday, August 12, 2024, 11:59 P.M. MST

Denver Public Art seeks to commission an artist or artist team to create original public artwork for the Denver Performing Arts Complex (“Arts Complex”) located at 1400 Curtis Street, Denver, CO. The goal of the public art commission is to create iconic, dynamic and inviting artwork(s) to adorn several outdoor concrete façades of the Arts Complex. The selection panel hopes the artwork(s) will celebrate the spirit of the performing arts in Denver and invites potential artists to create something unexpected and dynamic for the complex.

A 13-member selection panel of community representatives, arts and design professionals, and civic leaders has been assembled to identify art opportunities and to select and recommend an artist or artist team for this project. The selection panel has identified locations for potential artworks on two exterior concrete façades within the complex—one on the exterior of the parking garage and one on the exterior of the Bonfils Theatre.

Denver Public Art is hosting a virtual pre-application meeting for interested applicants on August 5, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will cover project background and goals, and the application process for this Request for Qualifications (RFQ). Attendees will also receive information on through which artists may apply. This event will be hosted on Zoom. Interested applicants are asked to register to get information on how to join prior to the event. If you cannot attend, a recording will be available on the Denver Arts & Venues Vimeo channel.

Land Acknowledgement
We acknowledge that the land Denver’s Public Art Collection occupies – – land where we stand, live, work and learn — is the traditional territory of the Ute, Cheyenne and Arapaho Peoples. We also recognize the 48 contemporary tribal nations that are historically tied to the lands that make up the state of Colorado. Our nation was founded upon and continues to enact exclusions and erasures of Indigenous Peoples. May this acknowledgement demonstrate a commitment to dismantling ongoing legacies of oppression and inequities as we intentionally honor and celebrate the Indigenous communities in our city and express our gratitude for their ongoing and significant contributions. Let’s not forget that this land was theirs long before we made it ours.

Denver Performing Arts Complex
The Denver Performing Arts Complex, which is also referred to as the “Arts Complex” in Denver, Colorado, is one of the largest performing arts centers in the United States. The Arts Complex is one of the top three performing arts complexes in the United States in terms of seats, patronage and ticket sales, along with Lincoln Center in New York City and Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. It encompasses four blocks and twelve acres, and holds ten performance spaces totaling more than 10,000 seats, as well as public open spaces.

The Arts Complex is home to four esteemed performing arts institutions – Colorado Ballet, Colorado Symphony, Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Opera Colorado – and plays a welcoming host to many national acts and local groups, Broadway musical tours, opera, dance, comedy, musical performances, chorales, festivals, conferences, film, public events and more.

The Arts Complex houses the following performance spaces:

  • The Ellie Caulkins Opera House (2,225 seating capacity) is a world-class hall inside the historic shell of the Quigg Newton Denver Municipal Auditorium, designed in the lyric style with acoustical excellence and clean sightlines.
  • The Buell Theatre (2,884 seating capacity) is designed for amplified musicals, dramatic plays and comedy acts.
  • Boettcher Concert Hall (2,679 seating capacity) is the nation’s first symphony hall in the round, designed to place the audience close to the stage.
  • Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex, which includes Wolf Theatre (610 seating capacity), Kilstrom Theatre (380 seating capacity), Singleton Theatre (200 seating capacity) and Jones Theatre (196 seating capacity).
  • The Garner Galleria Theatre (213 seating capacity) is a cabaret-style theatre.
  • The Studio Loft (250-400 seating capacity) is an 8,000 square-foot flexible space used for performances as well as rehearsals and private events.

The City and County of Denver’s Arts & Venues owns and operates the three largest theatres in the Arts Complex – the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the Temple Hoyne Buell Theatre and the Boettcher Concert Hall – as well as the Studio Loft. The Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex and the Garner Galleria Theatre within the Arts Complex are managed and operated by the non-profit Denver Center for the Performing Arts.

In addition to the performance venues at Arts Complex, the campus also houses rehearsal spaces, private event spaces, an art gallery, restaurants, a parking garage and office spaces.

The complex is accompanied by an open green space called Sculpture Park at the southwest corner (N. Speer Blvd. and Champa St), which houses one of Denver’s most iconic public artworks, Dancers by Jonathan Borofsky.

History of Denver Performing Arts Complex
The brainchild of Donald Seawell, the complex was built around Denver’s historic Municipal Auditorium (originally built in 1908), with the first new venues opening in 1978. During the complex’s opening years, there was a major emphasis on the celebration of its architecture – namely the construction of the 80-foot glass galleria that connects the structures to this day, the accomplishment of building the nation’s first in-the-round concert hall, and the Bonfils Theatre Complex’s full-glass façade (inviting visitors to come inside). Since the ‘70s, the complex has undergone several renovations, and has hosted monumental programs such as The Phantom of the Opera, The Lion King, The Laramie Project activating millions in economic impact and establishing the complex as a cultural center for metropolitan Denver, the state of Colorado, and the entire Rocky Mountain region.

Surrounding Area
The Arts Complex is in Downtown Denver in the Central Business District. Near the complex are major landmarks such as the Auraria Campus – which includes the University of Colorado Denver (CU Denver), Community College of Denver (CCD), and Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) — as well as the Colorado Convention Center, the 16th Street Mall, Denver Union Station and Civic Center Park. One site for the potential artwork will be seen directly from 14th Street, a major thoroughfare street that connects the Arts Complex and Convention Center with Civic Center Park, a historical and central location of government buildings and greenspace.

Goals, Site, Media & Materials
The selection panel members have set forth specific goals for this public art project with the hope of creating unique and inspiring works of art for the diverse communities that use the Arts Complex.

The selection panel hopes the new artwork will celebrate the spirit of the performing arts in Denver and invites potential artists to create something unexpected and dynamic for the complex.

  • The artwork should invite everyone into the complex; it should be inclusive, representative and accessible to as many audiences as possible.
  • The artwork should enhance the experience for patrons and users of the Arts Complex and amplify what happens within the complex across all mediums.
  • Artists are encouraged to consider the spirit of Denver and how it relates to the ecosystem of the Arts Complex and downtown.

Artwork Site
Finalists will be asked to create public artwork on concrete exterior façades within the complex—one on the exterior of the parking garage and one on the exterior of the Bonfils Theatre. Other locations may also be considered.

The dimensions of the three façades being considered are:

  • Bonfils Theatre Exterior Façade (Arapahoe Street): ~46’ x 32’
  • Parking Garage: Galleria Interior Façade: 240′ x 48’6’’

Media & Materials
The selection panel is open to artwork in all media and materials suitable for outdoor display. Durability and ease of maintenance are important at this location.

Maintenance & Durability
This artwork will become a permanent addition to the Denver Public Art collection. All applicants must consider the issues of long-term conservation and maintenance of public art, along with time and budget. These projects are in the public realm and will be exposed to physical stresses, as well as being subject to vandalism. Public art projects should be fabricated of highly durable, low-maintenance materials. Finalists are encouraged to consult with a professional conservator prior to the submission of a final proposal. Artist proposals awarded contracts will be reviewed by the City of Denver’s Public Art Committee to ensure conformity with city standards of maintenance and durability, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards. All finalists are expected to stay on budget and to complete work in an approved timeframe.

Who May Apply
This project is open to artists residing in the United States and internationally. Denver Arts & Venues is committed to building a public art collection that represents a broad diversity of artists and encourages applicants from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities, including artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latino/x, People of Color (BILPOC), people with disabilities, and members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersexual, asexual, Two-Spirit+ (LGBTQIA2S+) communities. Denver Arts & Venues also encourages applicants at various stages in their careers and applicants to practice a variety of artistic disciplines.

Can a team apply?
Applicants may apply as a single artist or multi-person collaborative group. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé for the team, with no more than one page per team member.

Applying for these opportunities
In response to this RFQ, applicants will be asked to submit the following items via (CaFÉ™).

  1. Six digital images of past work
  2. Résumé
  3. Statement of interest no longer than 2,000 characters

From these applications, the selection panel will choose three to five finalists who will create site-specific proposals and be interviewed in person or virtually. Artists will be paid an honorarium for this work. Artists/teams selected as finalists will be required to submit a Diversity & Inclusiveness Form for their proposals to be considered, which will be provided upon notification. As directed by Executive Order 101, this form must be submitted for all city solicitations of proposals. Denver Public Art staff can guide you in filling out this form.

Based on the interview and proposal, an artist or artist team will be selected for this commission. The selected artist or artist team will work with the Denver Public Art Program staff, and Denver Arts & Venues staff when finalizing their designs for installation.

Diversity and Inclusiveness
Denver Executive Order No. 101 establishes strategies between the City and private industry to use diversity and inclusiveness to promote economic development in the City and County of Denver and to encourage more businesses to compete for City contracts and procurements. The Executive Order requires, among other things, the collection of certain information regarding the practices of the City’s contractors and consultants toward diversity and inclusiveness and encourages/requires City agencies to include diversity and inclusiveness policies in selection criteria in solicitations for City services or goods when legally permitted. Diversity and Inclusiveness means inviting values, perspectives and contributions of people from diverse backgrounds, and integrating diversity into hiring and retention policies, training opportunities and business development methods to provide an equal opportunity for each person to participate, contribute and succeed within the organization’s workplace. “Diversity” encompasses a wide variety of human differences, including differences such as race, age, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, physical disabilities, appearance, and historically underutilized and disadvantaged persons, as well as social identities such as religion, marital status, socio-economic status, lifestyle, education, parental status, geographic background, language ability and veteran status.

The budget for this commission is $378,000.00 USD, which will be allocated to the artist/team selected. This contract amount is inclusive of all costs associated with the project, including, but not limited to, the artist’s design fee, other consultation fees such as structural engineering consultation, insurance (including Colorado Workers Compensation), tools, materials, fabrication, transportation, installation, any building or site modification required, travel to and from the site, per diem expenses, project documentation, a contingency to cover unexpected expenses, and any other costs. For all work done on city property, prevailing wage requirements will be applied.

(Except for the online application deadline, the timeline is subject to adjustments)

August 12, 2024 11:59 P.M. MST              Deadline for entry (via CaFÉ™ system)
September/October 2024                          Finalist Selection
December 2024                                          Artist Selection and Notification

Project Selection Panel
According to Denver’s Public Art policy, the project selection panel plays an active role in the acquisition of public art for the City and County of Denver. The Denver Performing Arts Complex selection panel is comprised of 13 voting members and additional non-voting advisors. The selection panel is responsible for reviewing the site, establishing criteria for a request for qualifications, reviewing applications, selecting and interviewing finalists, and finally for selecting an artist or artist team for the commission.

 Selection Process

  1. Three to five artists/artist teams will be selected as finalists. Those selected will receive more specific information regarding the sites and have the opportunity to meet with community members from the selection panel, Denver Public Art staff and Denver Parks and Recreation staff. The finalists will receive an honorarium to prepare a proposal and present it in person or virtually.
  2. The selection panel will review the proposals, interview the finalists, and recommend an artist/artist team for the commission.
  3. The final recommendation of the selection panel will be presented to the Public Art Committee, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, and the mayor of Denver for final approval.

*All decisions of the City and County of Denver are final.

Materials to be Submitted
Please read this section carefully. Incomplete applications will NOT be considered. The applicant’s name must appear on all materials submitted.

All materials must be submitted online, via the CaFÉ™ website ( There is no application fee to apply or to use the CaFÉ™ online application system.

Digital ImagesTo be considered for this project, the applicant must electronically submit six digital images of previously completed artworks through the online CaFÉ™ system. Artists who wish to submit kinetic, sound or media works must submit a complete CaFÉ™ application and will have the opportunity to upload one video file.

IMPORTANT: if submitting audio or video files, do not use them as your very first image. They must be submitted last in your image sequence.

Instructions on how to format images to CaFÉ™ specifications can be found at Assistance in using the CaFÉ™ system is available here:

If an artist does not have access to a computer, s/he/they may call (720) 515-5768 to make arrangements to use a computer at Denver Arts & Venues.

To request this RFQ in an alternate format (such as Braille, large print, or accessible electronic format) please contact

Statement of InterestPlease submit a statement (2,000 characters maximum) outlining the following:

  • Why the Denver Performing Arts Complex public art project is of special interest to you.
  • Your relationship to or interest in the City of Denver, the Denver Performing Arts Complex and the downtown area.
  • Your interest in themes of amplifying the performing arts, inclusivity and accessibility to all audiences.
  • Your design approach and experience working on public art projects.
  • Please also include information on your experience working with diverse communities and stakeholders.

RésuméSubmit a one to two-page current résumé via CaFÉ™ that highlights your professional accomplishments as an artist. Please name your résumé file accordingly: Last name. First initial (i.e. Smith.J.pdf). Résumés that are more than two pages will not be downloaded. If applying as a team, please submit one résumé with no more than one page per team member.

SurveyApplicants will also be required to fill out a short demographic survey that will be part of the CaFÉ™ application.

References – Applicants who are selected to be finalists will be required to provide three professional references.

Please direct all questions about the project to: Hannah Leathers, Public Art Program Administrator,, (720) 515-5768

Denver Arts & Venues complies with applicable Federal, State, and local civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, gender, or language. It is your right to request oral or written language assistance services in your primary language, as well as ASL interpretation if needed. Please contact Denver Arts & Venues at and these services will be provided to you free of charge.