Skip to main navigation Skip to content

Latest News

Call For Artists

Tasteful Boston: A Utility Box Creative Placemaking Project


Apply Online

Date Issued: July 17, 2020
Application Deadline: August 9, 2020

Program Overview

The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID) is seeking local artists to showcase their artwork on eleven utility boxes in the Downtown Crossing District. In an effort to enhance the lives of those who work in, reside in, or are visiting the city of Boston, this project will promote the Downtown Crossing District as a safe and welcoming environment, augment the vibrancy of the District by bringing art into unexpected places, and deter graffiti on the utility boxes.


This Call for Artists is open to artists living and/or practicing in the Boston area. Artists must be at least 18 years of age to apply. Professional artists or art teachers interested in mentoring student artist(s) throughout the project and installation are welcome to apply. The professional artist/teacher will be considered the primary artist for the project.
All artists must be available to complete the installation by October 1, 2020.

Project Theme

The theme for the Utility Box Creative Placemaking Project is Tasteful Boston. Boston has long been known for its iconic foods, from lobster, clam chowder, and baked beans to Boston cream pie and cannoli. However, there is much more to Boston’s food scene than these classic menu items. Many people – locals and tourists alike – have their own personal record of memorable moments when it comes to experiencing food in the city. Selected artists will be invited to illustrate their own interpretation of this theme through original designs to be painted on a utility box.

Application Requirements

  • Completed online application form, found at
  • 3-5 examples of previous work that represent your artistic style
  • Brief statement of interest, describing your interest in the utility box painting project and its associated theme (100 words or less)
  • There is NO application fee.

How To Apply

Applications must be submitted electronically via Submittable. All application requirements must be met and submitted prior to the August 9th deadline or the application will not be considered. There is no application fee.

Selection Process and Criteria

The selection process will take place over two phases.

Phase 1: Applicants’ portfolio and statement of interest will be reviewed, and up to 20 artists will be invited to submit new, original designs for a utility box that aligns with the theme Tasteful Boston.

Phase 2: The submitted designs will then be evaluated by a committee comprised of Downtown Boston BID leaders, business owners, and members of the local arts community. The committee will select the final team of artists to paint their proposed designs on the utility boxes.

Artists will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Artistic excellence and originality 
  • Alignment of proposed design with the theme of the project
  • Appropriateness of design in regards to the location and audience


Artists selected in Phase 1 to submit designs will be awarded $100 for their time and work in creating a new, original utility box design.

Artists selected in Phase 2 will receive an additional honorarium of $500 to paint their design onto a utility box. This honorarium includes the cost of supplies, which the artists will be required to obtain. These artists will receive 50% ($250) upon submission of the signed Artist Commission Agreement and the remaining 50% ($250) upon completion of the installation.

Professional Practice

Artists involved in the installation will receive professional photos documenting their work and the installation process to use in marketing their own professional practices. Artist photos, bios, and website links will also be published on the official project website in an effort to enhance the artists’ visibility and validate their expertise as an artist in the Boston area as they continue to pursue public art projects.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

We aim to ensure this project and the artists who participate in it are reflective of the city in which it exists. We encourage artists of all backgrounds and levels of expertise to submit applications for consideration. Candidates are eligible regardless of age, race, religion, color, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identification, marital status, military status, or disability.


Call for Artists Issued: July 17
Application Deadline: August 9
Phase 1 Artists Notified: August 14
Design Submission Deadline (if selected): August 30
Final Artist Selection Announced: September 4
Installation: To be completed by October 1


For Selected Artists

Proposed Designs

Artists selected in Phase 1 will use the Design Template on page 6 to create a rendering of their proposed design(s). Up to 3 designs may be submitted. Artists will submit their design(s), along with a brief description (50 words or less) of each.

The Design Template provides an outline of a typical utility box. Actual utility boxes may vary in size and shape and have various vents, doors, and handles. Artists should be prepared to adjust their artwork to fit a real utility box at the time of installation.

Box Selection

Artists may provide their top three preferred boxes (map found below). Location preferences will be considered but cannot be guaranteed.

Artwork Standards

  • All entries must be original work of the artists and must be suitable for viewing by all ages. Entries that use a copyrighted or trademarked image will not be accepted.
  • The design should avoid using primarily dark colors to prevent the box from overheating.
  • Entries must not contain negative imagery, advertising, political statements, religious references, or sexual content.

Installation Guidelines

  • The utility box must be painted with a high-grade, water-based, exterior acrylic paint.
  • The painted work must cover all four sides and the top of the box, unless a side is physically inaccessible. The artwork cannot restrict any vents or airflow through the boxes at any time during the process. Artwork must not cover any warning labels located on the utility boxes. City of Boston staff must be able to fully access the components inside the box at all times.
  • The utility boxes will be cleaned and prepped by the BID prior to being painted by the artists. The BID will also apply an anti-graffiti coat upon completion of the art installation.
  • The artists will be responsible for providing all supplies to complete the project, including but not limited to: paint, brushes, water, tape, drop cloths, and any other supplies deemed necessary. Drop cloths must be used at all times, and artists must have materials to clean potential spills on hand throughout the duration of the installation.
  • If vandalization occurs that cannot be easily remedied, the artist will be contacted to repair the art. If the artist is not willing or available to restore their work, the box will be painted over and new art may be applied in its place. Compensation for any repairs will be negotiated between the BID and the artist, dependent on the scope of repairs needed.
  • Artists are welcome to sign their artwork and include their website or social media handle. Signatures should be located towards the bottom of the box and be contained to a space approximately 4” x 6”.
  • This project is intended to be a temporary installation, with an estimated lifespan of 1-2 years.
  • The BID will obtain liability insurance to cover participating artists for the duration of the installation process.


An Artist Commission Agreement (found below) will be issued to participating artists upon final selection. Artists may not begin the installation until all required contracts are completed and submitted to the Downtown Boston BID.


The BID will establish precautions regarding the health and safety of participating artists as it relates to the coronavirus pandemic, in accordance with public health guidelines set in place by the State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston during the time of the installation. Artists will be made aware of these guidelines as soon as possible prior to commencing the installation process.

Artist Commission Agreement

Utility Box Locations