Montana Arts Council

An Agency of State Government

Percent for Art

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In 1983, the 48th Montana Legislature "... in recognition of its responsibility to create a more humane environment of distinction, enjoyment, and pride for all its citizens and in recognition that public art is a resource that stimulates the vitality and economy of the state's communities and provides opportunity for artists to practice their crafts", enacted a law providing that, "capital project appropriations by the legislature shall include ... an amount not to exceed 1% of the amount appropriated for the use of the Montana Arts Council for the acquisition of art for new state buildings..."

The Montana Arts Council has administered this program since its inception in 1985, already placing art in more than 18 state buildings.

Do artists who are new to the public art field ever get commissioned for these projects?

Absolutely! The request for proposals online process allows all applicants to compete on an equal basis. If your proposals are clearly presented, your images and/or video clips are of professional quality, and your application is complete, you will be a viable candidate for selection.


I do not have an Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate. If my proposal is successful, how do I get one and how much does it cost?

An Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate is issued by the Department of Labor and Industry and costs $125.00 for two years. Application forms can be obtained from Montana Job Service Centers around the state, by calling (406) 444-7734 or from the Department of Labor and Industry.


What can I do to make my application stronger?

  • Follow all instructions clearly.

  • Keep your application clear, concise, and as descriptive as possible.

  • Give dimensions of the proposed artwork, and relate those dimensions to the scale of the installation site.

  • Include images and/or video clips that show the actual work, or work that is similar in style or design.

  • Be certain your proposal is within the prescribed budget.


Can I make my application stronger by including more materials about me and my studio?

ONLY those documents and items requested in the guidelines will be considered by the selection committee. The maximum number of uploaded items is clearly stated in the online application site and it will not allow you to submit above that limit.


The budget section of the application has a line for "insurance." Does this mean that I need to insure the artwork after it is installed?

No. This line item on your budget is to cover your insurance during the creation and delivery of the artwork. It is advisable to insure your work in order to satisfy your contract. Some artists have studio insurance. Others have insurance that covers shipping. Some artists are bonded to cover their financial assets in the case that they fail to comply with a contract.


Why are you only taking online applications for this project?

We hope it will save both the artist and the arts council time and money. We also hope to create a more level playing field by presenting the work of each artist in the same format. The online gallery allows the artist’s images to be shown at their best advantage and offers selection committee members increased access to applications which will enhance the selection process.


How many applications do you get for a Percent for Art project? 

We typically receive 75-130 applications.


Who will be on the selection committee?

The selection committee for each project is made up of three voting members: the architect who designed the building, a representative of the facility, and a local artist. A member of the Montana Arts Council board and a Montana Arts Council staff member serve as advisors and facilitators of the process, and are non-voting members of the selection committee. During many projects, there are additional committee members as deemed appropriate, such as engineers, facilities managers, advisors.


MSUB Life Sciences Image

Life Sciences Building, Montana State University-Billings
Billings, Montana

The Life Sciences Building is designed by Architect Mike Dowling of Dowling Architects. The Life Sciences Building is three buildings combined onto one large functioning edifice for the MSU-B life and health science programs. Classrooms, Laboratories, an Auditorium and Offices combine to create an environment for learning and progressing through a college experience. Art is desired to highlight building elements or to tell a story with sciences as a theme.

The project lead is Architect William Grant at Dowling Architects.

Deadline for Application: July 15, 2021
Notification of acceptance/rejection: August 1, 2021
Delivery and installation of artwork complete: August 23, 2021 (tentative due to COVID-19)
Ribbon Cutting September 7, 2021

Project Funds
The total artwork budget is $20,000. 



Image credits for top banner: Alan McNiel, Dana Boussard, Marsha Karle, courtesy of MSU, Barb Schwarz Karst
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