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“Project Pop Up: Downtown” RFP

The deadline for Project Pop Up: Downtown proposals has passed.  Thanks to everyone for your interest and many thanks to those who put forth proposals.  We are excited about the incredible response!  With the success of this Project Pop Up Pittsburgh launch initiative, we hope to issue future request for proposals.  Keep an eye on the website for news about Project Pop Up: Downtown program participants and future developments!

The Project Pop Up Pittsburgh team


Request for Proposals

Project Pop Up Pittsburgh

“Project Pop Up: Downtown”

RFP Issued: August 15, 2011

RFP Deadline: September 13, 2011 at 5:00pm

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is seeking creative and innovative proposals for activation of vacant storefronts in Downtown through the use of a broad range of pop up arts and retail ventures. Activation will range from a short-term minimum of 6 months up to 12 months with the potential for long-term occupancy. Shorter terms will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

We are seeking proposals from individual artists, collaborative artist teams, commercial retail businesses, arts and culture related businesses, and other for-profit or non-profit organizations or entities that will provide the most high quality and innovative approaches to activating spaces in Downtown with both a daytime and nighttime presence.

I. Background

In 2010, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl convened round-table discussions with Downtown stakeholders to uncover ways to continue Downtown’s renaissance through focused resources and partnerships. The working group researched innovative solutions for underutilized property to increase the vibrancy, safety, and economic health of the neighborhood. What emerged was “Project Pop Up: Downtown” a program designed to incubate pop up art and retail projects to occupy or activate vacant storefronts. Similar programs exist in other cities, and were researched as benchmarks for the parameters of the Pittsburgh program.

For examples of art storefront programs and curated for-profit businesses in other cities, please visit the following websites:

Seattle art storefronts:

San Francisco art storefronts:

NY, pop up dining:

Singapore, “Black Market No. 2”:

In 2011, there are many Downtown major developments on the horizon that will provide a much needed boost to the visual and economic landscape of the area. It is intended that this storefront activation program serve as a model to re-activate key Downtown areas in its first year and, with success, to then be replicated in other Pittsburgh neighborhoods in the future.

II. Project Goals

Downtown Pittsburgh is currently in a stage of positive change and growth, including new developments and infrastructure projects. Despite the large scale investment happening, there are still vacant storefronts and buildings that are in need of activation either through creative artistic intervention and / or short to long term retail.

Goals of “Project Pop Up: Downtown” include:

– Increased daytime and nighttime sense of vibrancy, safety and economic health of Downtown

– Support the economic viability of Downtown with increased foot traffic

– Develop a creative atmosphere in storefronts that will lead to new development and permanent businesses in these locations

– Provide artists, arts organizations, and other businesses with an opportunity to have a presence in Downtown, allowing them to experience firsthand the potential success of a Downtown location

– Foster opportunities for new and experimental storefronts concepts that will lead to creative developments in Downtown

– Create a mechanism in which artists, arts organizations, and prospective retailers can occupy these spaces in functional and engaging ways

– Create a successful street activation model for other cities to emulate.

III. Awards & Project Budget

Project Pop Up Pittsburgh will provide grants of $1,500-$10,000 per project, contingent upon the scale and scope of each proposal and its corresponding available storefront.

This allocation is intended to cover all costs associated with the project, including but not limited to the following costs: the selected artist’s or organization’s design and management fee, labor and materials, fabrication, maintenance, structural engineering, transportation, general liability insurance policy, and installation of the pop up idea.

IV. Insurance Requirements

Each applicant selected to participate in the program will be required to procure general liability insurance from the insurance agency of their choice for the duration of time that it occupies and/or performs work at its assigned storefront. The applicant will need to name The City of Pittsburgh, the Urban Redevelopment Authority, and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, and the property owner as additional insured to the policy. If an applicant does not already have such policy, it may provide a cost for the procurement of said policy within its proposed project budget.

Artists and arts organizations may qualify to purchase general liability insurance through a third party, for example Fractured Atlas: Regional artists and arts organizations who are members of the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council have reciprocal membership with Fractured Atlas. For more information about membership to GPAC, visit

V. Criteria, Selection Process & Project Development

The intent of the project is to be as flexible as possible and to foster the greatest opportunity for innovation and creativity. Applications will be selected based on, but not limited to, the following criteria:

1) Feasibility, innovation, creativity, and the potential for greatest impact

2) A demonstrated ability to manage a project of the proposed scale and budget

3) Activation of the storefront at night

All applications will be reviewed by a curatorial committee that consists of local art professionals, staff members of the City of Pittsburgh and the URA, and Downtown stakeholders.

The committee will select a group of finalists who will be invited to present their proposals in person to the curatorial committee. Finalists will be given three weeks to further develop their proposals and create their presentations. After the presentations, the committee will select up to 15 applicants to participate in the program. The committee will match selected applicants with vacant storefronts based upon each project’s needs and available storefronts.

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership may choose to develop a waitlist of additional applicants, and/or provide a revolving storefront that will support multiple short term pop up projects while providing single projects for one year residencies in others.

Those selected will work with the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership program manager to solidify budget and plans for each space. Once the project budget and plans have been approved, each project participant will sign a contract for either a 6 month or 12 month commitment and subsequently receive funds for the entirety of the approved budget, within a range of $1,500 to $10,000. Shorter terms may be available on a case-by-case basis.

Project participants will report to the Pittsburgh Downtown partnership project manager, who will assist them with the implementation of their projects. Project participants will have approximately one month to install the project upon or within each storefront to prepare for the soft launch on November 18, 2011 (Light Up Night) to drive awareness to the project. The official launch of all activated storefronts will be December 31, 2011 (First Night). It is expected that a map and “Project Pop Up: Downtown Crawl” will be created to further drive awareness and attendance to each storefront.

VI. Storefront Content, Maintenance & Security

A wide variety of solutions to activate the storefronts are sought. Applicants can choose to work with the storefront façade or occupy the storefront. The storefronts can be installations, gallery spaces, retail ventures, or any combination thereof. For art projects, all media, combinations of artistic teams, and art forms will be considered.

Activation of the storefront facade and/or interior space that creates a presence during the day as well as at night is strongly desired.

Project participants will be responsible for maintenance of their storefront project and should include a maintenance allocation within their budget. Applicants should take into consideration the amount and direction(s) of pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the area, the existing architecture of the building and its surroundings, and the best, most feasible temporary use of the space and/or façade. All proposals must be removable and temporary, leaving no permanent adverse effect to the storefront façade or interior space.

If electronic equipment or other valuable or delicate objects or mechanisms are part of the storefront installation, the proposal should address how security will be ensured. Neither the program nor the property owner will be responsible for theft or damage of artwork or other storefront contents.

VII. Eligibility

The most innovative, feasible, and creative proposals will be selected to participate in the program. Applicants are welcome from the Pittsburgh region and beyond.

Eligible applicants to the program include visual artists, performance artists, artist collectives, art organizations, entrepreneurs, and non-profit and for profit organizations and businesses who are seeking to develop a presence in Downtown Pittsburgh. Applicants may link the storefront to an existing organization.

Artist teams are encouraged, and could consist of visual artists, architects, landscape architects, designers, writers, poets, performance artists, etc. The definition of “artist team” is very broad within the context of this program and is meant to allow for the most interesting and engaging partnerships possible among a variety of disciplines and professionals.

VIII. Information Session

The Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership is hosting an optional information session about “Project Pop Up: Downtown” on August 22, 2011 at 5:00pm. The session is located at the Greater Pittsburgh Art Council, 810 Penn Avenue, Suite 200, Pittsburgh, PA.

At the session, project partners will answer questions and review the application process. A list of available Downtown properties will be presented. Following the meeting, the list will be presented on the project website,

Please contact Lynda Fairbrother at (412) 566-4190 or to reserve your space.

IX. Timeline

Information Session: August 22, 2011, 5:00pm

Application Deadline: September 13, 2011, 5:00pm

Curatorial Committee Review: September 21, 2011

Applicants Notified: September 22, 2011

Finalists present to Committee: October 12, 2011

Final Selection of Applicants/Storefronts Assigned: October 14, 2011

Finalist Contracts Signed and Returned: October 18, 2011

Select Storefront Installation for Soft Launch: October 18 – November 17, 2011

“Project Pop Up: Downtown” Soft Launch: November 18, 2011

General Storefront Installation: November 21 – December 30, 2011

“Project Pop Up: Downtown” Official Launch: December 31, 2011

Program Duration: Variable and site contingent (average 6-12 month commitment, with option for longer or shorter term contingent upon site availability, conditions, and feasibility of project)

X. Proposal Requirements:

Potential applicants who are interested in this project must prepare a proposal and support materials to be submitted on a CD and in a single color hardcopy. The CD must contain one PDF formatted to 8.5 x 11 inches and a folder that contains the requested support materials.

Applicants may choose to supply up to 3 proposals for one or multiple storefronts, e.g. one interior, one exterior, three different storefronts, or any combination thereof. Proposals of varying price points is encouraged.

A. Proposal:

Please place pages of text and images within the PDF in the exact order outlined below.

1. Cover Page With Contact Information and Summary: Write the applicant name(s), email, telephone, address, and website. If a collaborative, list the names, contact information, and websites for all of the project partners, and indicate one lead contact for the project.

The cover page should include the name and a 50 word description of the project.

2. Letter of Interest: A one page letter that explains interest in the project, relevant experience, and ability to complete the project. If a collaborative or team is proposed, describe how the team was formed and past experience working together. If the applicant has no previous experience working on a similar project, describe past experiences that are relevant to this project and how the project will be successful.

3. Narrative: A one page project narrative that describes the storefront project. If you are submitting more than one proposal, the narrative is limited to one page per proposal. Each narrative should include the lenght of time proposed, a description of what will occur at the storefront, a description of the daytime and night time presence, and a description of any project partners

4. Budget: A one-page project budget that includes all costs associated with design fee, installation, and maintenance of the project for a six month and/or a 12 month period. Budgets will be judged on feasibility and available funding. Please note that if a proposal requires work by a structural engineer, architect, electrician, or other professional, the costs must be included within the project budget. If you are submitting more than one proposal, submit one budget for each project.

B. Support Materials:

Please place support materials in a folder on a CD labeled with the name of the applicant(s) and the words “Support Materials.”

1. Up to five renderings that illustrate the project narrative. Each rendering should be an individual JPG, not a composite image.

– Please label your JPGs with your last name, first initial and the numbers 1-5. For example, if your name is Joan Smith, the first rendering on your disc should be smith_joan_1.jpg and the second image should be smith_joan_2.jpg Each JPG should be no more than 1MB, 5’’ x 7’’.

2. Images of past artwork, projects, retail stores, or other work by the applicant that will demonstrate the applicants past experience and abilities.

– Similar to the instructions for the rendering, label these JPGs with your last name, the word PAST, and the numbers 1-5. For example, if your name is Joan Smith, the first artwork on your disc should be smith_PAST_1.jpg and the second image should be smith_PAST_2.jpg Each JPG should be no more than 1MB, 5’’ x 7’’.

3. Image descriptions in PDF format that includes a short description of each rendering and example of past work. A digital copy of this script must be included on the CD, and a paper copy must be included in the application. The description for each image should include the following information as applicable: title, dimensions, materials, budget, location, and a brief summary.

4. A current résumé or bio up to two pages. If submitting as a team, submit a resume or bio of up to two pages for each member.

5. A list of at least three professional references. This list must include addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses. List how the reference is connected to the applicant or team.

XI. Proposal Delivery:

The application should be packaged in such a manner that the sealed envelope clearly reflects the program’s name and the applicant’s name and address. Materials submitted will not be returned. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Emailed applications will not be accepted.

Proposal packets should be submitted by mail or in person to:

Bethany Tucke

Project Pop Up Pittsburgh Program Manager

Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership

925 Liberty Avenue, 4th Floor

Pittsburgh, PA 15219

(412) 566-4190

XII. Property List and Project Website

The list of properties and other project information will be posted on the project website on August 23, 2011. The website is

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