Open Call

This is an open call for for individual artist project proposals for projects in any medium or discipline for Northern Spark, to be held June 13, 2015.

Submission form

Submit your proposal here.

Application deadline

Monday, January 12, 2015, 9 pm, CST


What Is Northern Spark?

Northern Spark is an all-night arts festival that lights up Minneapolis on June 13, 2015.

During Northern Spark, tens of thousands of people gather along the Minneapolis riverfront and throughout the city to explore giant video projections, play in temporary installations in the streets, and enjoy experimental performances in green spaces and under bridges. From dusk to dawn the city surprises you: friendly crowds, glowing groups of cyclists, an unexpected path through the urban landscape, the magic of sunrise after a night of amazing art and experiences. Northern Spark is the one-night arts event people talk about for the rest of the year.

More information about Northern Spark:

Where Is Northern Spark?

Northern Spark will take place in Minneapolis in 2015. As in past years, there will be key hubs of activity at multiple venues. This call is particularly focused on the west bank of the Mississippi River from the Guthrie Theater’s Endless Bridge to the Stone Arch Bridge including the Mill City Museum, and on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza. Note, this is not a call to present at partner venues.

Zones for Open Call projects are located at:

  • River – Guthrie Theater’s Endless Bridge to Stone Arch Bridge including Mill City Museum
  • Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza


Projects can be proposed anywhere along the west bank of the Mississippi between the Guthrie Theater’s Endless Bridge and the Stone Arch Bridge, on the Chicago Ave. Mall between the Guthrie and the Mill City Museum, in the trainshed at the Mill City Museum (or other Mill City Museum location), or on the Minneapolis Convention Center Plaza. We encourage you to propose projects that take advantage of the city’s “nooks and crannies”–and surfaces–within these zones. Images of some of the sites we’re interested in having artists activate are located on our Flickr page. If you have a question about a specific site, email


The mission of Northern is to support emerging and established artists in the creation and presentation of art in the public sphere, focusing on innovative uses of technology, old and new, to imagine new interactions between audience, artwork and place, explore expanded possibilities for civic engagement, and encourage pluralistic community.

For Northern Spark 2015, we are interested in the fundamentals of what makes Northern Spark unique: nighttime, participation, innovative art, and community. This will be Northern Spark’s 5th anniversary. What has been most unexpected and most thrilling about the festival? How does your project carry on that tradition?

Call for Proposals

We invite you to propose a project of any medium that is sited/performed in public space along the river or at the Minneapolis Convention Center plaza. The project should be prepared to engage a broad public audience. It can be mobile.

While none of the following are strict requirements, they are each important factors in making our decisions.

  • Artistic quality. Northern Spark is committed to supporting the work of artists. The proposed work can be serious or funny, spectacular or intimate, high or low, or any combination thereof, but  it cannot be an advertisement. We are not a trade fair.
  • Thematic. How and what are you projecting onto/into/about the city?
  • Participatory. Not all projects will have a direct audience participation component, but our goal is that a significant percentage will. Participation can also be passive, tracking movement or data or other inputs.
  • Duration. One of the distinctive aspects of Northern Spark is its duration. Does your project take advantage of this?
  • Nighttime. Another distinctive aspect.
  • Mobile/Pop up. We’re interested in at least some projects that are mobile and/or have a light footprint and can be “installed” in a few locations during the night.
  • Crowded. Depending on the nature and placement of your project, there may be very large crowds to appreciate it. How does your proposal account for this?
  • Accessible. As a public arts event, there will be a broad audience that has a range of arts knowledge from novice to seasoned practitioner. How does your proposal account for this?
  • Feasibility. You only have 519 minutes. Installation generally takes place the same day and deinstallation the next morning. Make sure your project is feasible and impactful and that we understand how you will achieve this.


Northern Spark is designed to “see the city in a new light.” It is also taking place in public spaces, and all projects should be respectful of residents and businesses in the area. Specifically, every project should:

  • Be safe
  • Not include amplified sound, which is uncontained, after 10 pm
  • Meet all necessary City laws, ordinances, and codes

Northern will assist and facilitate, but artists are responsible for their own technical requirements.


For this call, we will be funding up to 5 projects with budgets of up to $5,000 each. A total of $10,920 is available to fund the selected projects, which we raised through our Indiegogo campaign that ended on December 31, 2014. The number of projects that will be accepted is dependent on available funds from this pool.


This call is for individual artists or artists collectives who don’t have support from a Northern Spark venue organization.

Artists from anywhere are eligible to participate, but there is no additional funding available for travel.

Timing and Deadlines

Proposals must be submitted by 9 pm CST on Monday, January 12, 2015. Submit your proposal here.

Selected projects will be notified by mid-February.

Application materials

The application process is entirely online. Applicants are required to submit:

  • Primary contact information
  • Proposal concept (max 1 page, pdf)
  • Supporting materials, such as site diagrams, including technical specifications (max 2 pages, pdf)
  • Links with identifying information and/or brief descriptions to no more than 10 images and 1 video of past, preferably related work – (max 1 page, pdf)
  • A budget that fits within the parameters of the grant and/or clearly identifies and confirms additional resources (max 1 page, pdf)
  • A brief bio and CV (max 1 page for each primary participant, pdf)


This call will be juried by Northern, which reserves the right to request additional material and information after the proposal deadline, and to reject any and all proposals received

Info Sessions

Information sessions (optional) will be held at the following dates.

  • Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:00 – 7:00pm, Mill City Museum – ADM Conference Room (704 South 2nd St, Minneapolis, MN 55401). RSVP through the info session Facebook event.
  • Wednesday, December 17, 2014*, 6:00 – 8:00pm, Somali Artifact and Cultural Museum (1516 E Lake St, Minneapolis, MN 55407). *This info session is co-presented by the Somali Museum of Minnesota with a goal of engaging East African artists, though all are welcome. The session will include an overview of both the Northern Spark open call and the Art(ists) On the Verge call as well as a discussion about forming broader connections between East African artists and the Twin Cities art community. Find out more and RSVP here.

Sign up for the Northern Lights newsletter to ensure you are notified.

Frequently Asked Questions

What technical specifications do you want to see included in my supporting materials?
The technical specifications we want to see in your supporting materials are things like equipment, dimensions, site diagrams, any special structures or features that would be needed, etc. Basically, anything that will help us get a sense of how your project would physically fit into the landscape of the festival, and what the major physical components are.

Does my proposal need to suggest/request a specific site?
Your proposal does not have to include a specific site, but at a minimum it should include the type of site that would be appropriate for your project.

My project will only last one hour, and it will not be repeated. Can I still submit a proposal?
We are mainly looking for projects that will last for the duration of the night.

I don’t need funding for my project / I can provide all the funding for my project, and I would like to present it at Northern Spark. What is the process I should follow?
All proposals for projects should be submitted through the open call submissions form by the January 12th deadline so they can be sent to the jury. Each project is juried through the same process, regardless of its funding needs, and it’s totally fine to have a budget anywhere between $0 and the $5,000 maximum.

Is there a set number of projects that will be accepted?
No, there is not a set number of projects that will be accepted. A total of $10,920 is available to fund the selected projects, which we raised through our Indiegogo campaign that ended on December 31, 2014. The number of projects that will be accepted is dependent on available funds from this pool.

I live in a country that is not the United States, so my phone number doesn’t fit into the submission form correctly.
No problem. Email Ady (

I’m not interested in presenting a project, but I really want to be a part of this festival. How can I get involved?
You can volunteer! We love our volunteers. Email for more information.

What should I do if I don’t see my question listed in these FAQ’s?
Email Ady ( with any additional questions. Or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page.



image Jerome Foundation Minneapolis College of Art and Design