Request for Proposals – NEA granted funded program in Lockport, IL

unLOCK: Merging Art & Industry in Lockport, IL.

Entry Deadline: Nov. 20

200 W 8th Street
Lockport, IL 60441
PHONE 815-838-9400

Program Overview:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for the Gaylord Building, a National Trust Historic Site, to lead the creation and execution of theNEA Our Town project—unLOCK: Merging Art and Industry in Downtown Lockport— a citywide multimedia art experience in Lockport, Illinois. The goals of this exciting program are to 1) increase creative and commercial activity in the city, and 2) advance local revitalization efforts by using art to galvanize the city’s unique heritage. As a result of this art experience, community members and visitors alike will gain a new understanding of the role that Lockport and the region played in revolutionizing the development of the Midwest and will be inspired by the ways that this industrial heritage can contribute to fueling future economic growth and building community identity.

As a central piece of this endeavor, ten artists will be selected to create new works and propose associated public programming that interpret Lockport’s past and present and are inspired by the city’s rich historic assets and intimate connection with the I&M Canal National Heritage Area. We envision that the selections will encompass a diverse array of artistic disciplines and media to provide varied experiences and interpretations for audiences. Selected works will be installed or performed in businesses, historic sites, and cultural institutions throughout or within the canal landscape and the downtown area as proposed by the artists based on their inspiration from the location and/or artistic vision and will be on display for four months in the summer of 2018. Through the placement of these artworks, unLOCK will create an immersive experience that will dynamically connect the historic resources, landscapes, and businesses of the city—guiding visitors and residents through the physical and cultural assets of Lockport.

Accompanying public programming will highlight these new pieces and invite people to interact, listen, linger, and learn in new ways at Lockport’s buildings, businesses, and landscapes. The selected artists will participate in additional programming which may include, but is not limited to, artist lectures and workshops, musical or theater performances in commercial or cultural venues. Additional programming may be developed by the National Trust, along with partner organizations.

This program will increase creative activity, attention, and excitement for the city’s historic and commercial resources—drawing diverse groups of consumers to Lockport for a sustained visit and helping to shape new perceptions of the downtown area and the surrounding region. It will also strengthen the culture of arts in the community as a means of fueling inclusive economic growth and creating new opportunities for people to thrive, collaborate, and celebrate their community’s distinctive qualities. Due to its prominent location in the historic district, its close ties with the City government, and its proven track record of exhibits and programming on Lockport’s history, the Gaylord Building staff will lead the development and execution of this program.

The National Trust, therefore, is requesting applications for artists to participate in unLOCK, which will include creating a unique artwork or performance piece that interprets Lockport’s past and present and is inspired by the city’s rich historic assets and connection with the I&M Canal, participating in associated public programming, and attending the closing event.

About the Gaylord Building:
The Gaylord Building, a site owned and operated by the National Trust, played a vital role in one of the great enterprises of the 19th century: the Illinois & Michigan Canal. A landmark since 1838, its many tenants and uses exemplify the canal’s commercial success as the key to mastery of the American mid-continent. This handsome limestone warehouse originally stored canal construction materials and later housed a variety of commercial ventures. Today the Gaylord Building is a national model of adaptive reuse, is a key historic and cultural destination, and serves as a gateway to the Lockport community and the I&M Canal National Heritage Area.

Key Partners:
By bringing the combined resources and talent of the city’s organizations to bear, in addition to sponsoring quality arts programming over the course of multiple months, unLOCK isexpected to grow to become a larger, more impactful arts event in Lockport—better positioning the city as a regional destination for creativity representing art from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Partner organizations include the National Trust, City of Lockport, Illinois State Museum Lockport, Lewis University, University of St. Francis, and local arts organizations. unLOCK will be shared as a model for towns throughout the country to utilize the arts to bring heritage to life and to attract new audiences and increased revenues to downtown historic districts.

Financial Support:
Each of ten artists will receive a stipend of $2,500, to be paid in two installments. Additionally, there is a $700 allowance for reimbursable supplies and equipment. The City of Lockport will supply equipment and labor to assist with installation and de-installation of works, as needed. All other costs and expenses will be the responsibility of the artist. This program is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Art Experience:
The selected artists will create new works of art to be on display or performed in a variety of downtown locations. Associated programming highlighting these works and the creative process will be ongoing for a period of four months throughout the summer of 2018. Completed works will be documented using video and still images, and will be shared with a broader audience via the National Trust, Gaylord Building, City of Lockport, and other participating partners. The artists will retain ownership and copyright of the works produced, but licenses will be granted to the National Trust, the Federal government, and others for the use and reproduction of such works. This program will draw audiences of all ages and abilities and must be fully accessible to people with disabilities in compliance with Section 504 and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as required by the NEA grant. This includes both physical accessibility (i.e. wheelchair accessibility) and also programmatic accessibility (i.e. sign language interpretation, audio description, large print/Braille programs, etc.). Applications should describe how the work or performance will be ADA compliant, and should stipulate if any accommodations will need to be made to ensure that the mobility and/or accessibility needs of all patrons will be addressed.

Selection Process/Program Management:
The program will be managed by Pam Owens, executive director of the Gaylord Building. Artists will be selected by a highly-qualified jury with close ties to the local and regional arts community, as well as by senior National Trust staff with expertise in the use of contemporary art at historic sites, and independent experts in the integration of the arts and historic sites. Selections will be made based on the quality of the artist’s work; the originality and feasibility of the proposed public programs; and the ability of the work to contribute to building community identity and fueling future economic growth. The program seeks applicants with diverse artistic points of view and diverse backgrounds. All types of works are encouraged, from traditional to experimental, and a strong emphasis will be placed on the quality and consistency of the artist’s work and capacity for public engagement. Selected artists will receive an award letter outlining terms and conditions and will enter into an agreement with the National Trust. The National Trust reserves the right to reject any and all proposals or to waive minor informalities and irregularities in proposals received. A decision regarding the selection of artists is expected to be made by December 8, 2017.

Application Deadline and Program Timeline:
November 20, 2017: Application Deadline– Applications will be due by 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time. Completed applications must be postmarked or submitted digitally by this deadline to be considered for the program. Online submissions may be made at
Early December 2017: Notification of Artist Selections
Late December 2017: Signed Agreements – The National Trust will enter into agreements with each of the selected Artists.
January 2018: Pre-program Exhibit Installation– Example works of all selected artists will be loaned to the National Trust and installed in an exhibit at the Gaylord Building.
January – May 2018: Creative Production– Artists will create new works inspired by Lockport’s heritage and identity. Artists will work with Gaylord Building executive director and guest curator to plan installation needs and coordinate programming details, including entering into licensing agreements for the installation of works on private or public property.
May 2018: Installation– New works of art will be on display in various downtown locations.
June-September 2018: Lockport Summer Arts Series– Associated programming highlighting these works and the creative process will be ongoing throughout this period.
October 2018: Program Closeout– A closing event will be held at the end of October 2018. Completed works will be documented using video and still images, and will be shared with a broader audience by the National Trust, Gaylord Building, and the City of Lockport.

Application Information:
The National Trust for Historic Preservation encourages artists of all backgrounds to apply for unLOCK: Merging Art and Industry in Lockport, Illinois. The National Trust does not discriminate based on race, creed, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, or sexual orientation. Applications must include the following information:

Completed application form: Artist professional biography
Artist Statement describing what you would like to evoke with the theme unLOCK: Merging Art and Industry in Lockport, Illinois. Include specific information if your art interprets or involves a specific space or site and why. (1000 words maximum) Work plan, describing the work you plan to create, your plan for public  programming, and the proposed location for your work to be installed or performed. (1000 words maximum) Up to 6 digital images and/or 3 audio files of prior work. Copies of reviews, catalogues or other support materials (optional). How to apply:
Online applications may be submitted at the following link:

Please address any questions via email to [email protected], and include “unLOCK” in the subject line.


Links to Lockport organizations and agencies, historic resources, and inspiration images may be found at the following link: Questions regarding this Application Guidelines and Request for Proposals should be directed to: Pam Owens, Executive Director, The Gaylord Building, 200 West 8th Street, Lockport, IL 60441. (815) 838-9400

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