Growing Community Arts Initiative

Growing Community

Public Art in Community Gardens Initiative


Sponsored by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program

Supported by an AARP Community Challenge Grant


Call for Art

Urbana's Growing Community Initiative is a public art initiative that invites local artists to submit digital images of original artworks or interactive, temporary art installations in participating community gardens. 


Artwork, selected through a jury process, will engage the mission of each community garden, celebrating sustainability, diversity, the local food system, native plants, and community-building among neighbors. Selected artwork will not only engage in creative placemaking and beautification, but offer arts-based ways to amplify support for the work of our smaller community gardens and their resources (public seating, civic engagement, storytelling, and gathering). 


Artworks selected through the jury process will be chosen for the creative and innovative ways they invite engagement with the dynamic local history of community gardens, showcase the cultural diversity of Urbana, and create additional garden infrastructure (benches, games, music, and vibrancy) and improve disability access, language accessibility, and intergenerational engagement. Selected artists will receive a $1,000 honorarium for fabrication/installation projects OR a $300 for the use of a selected digital image of artwork.



Selected Growing Community artworks (and any associated ADA-compliant benches and AARP-branded signage) will be installed at the following 6 locations:


  1. Lierman Neighborhood Community Garden (Lierman and Washington Sts., Urbana, 61802)

  2. Cunningham Township Community Garden (205 W Green St, Urbana, 61801)

  3. Victory Park Community Garden (1000 E. Green St. Urbana, 61802)

  4. Habitat for Humanity Community Garden (1309 W Hill St, Urbana 61801)

  5. The Peace Garden (902 West Springfield Ave. Urbana, 61801)

  6. Meadowbrook Community Gardens (2808 S. Race St. Urbana, 61801)



  • Applicants must be 18 and older and  reside in Champaign County

  • Applicants cannot be employees of the City of Urbana or its associated Boards and Commissions 


Access and Inclusion

The majority of the selected community gardens service adjacent neighborhoods and directly benefit community members facing housing and food insecurity. As these community gardens aim to generate food for those facing insecurities, the majority of beneficiaries are Black and Latinx, immigrants, low-income, disabled, and/or receiving assistance. The Lierman Neighborhood Community Garden directly benefits the adjacent low-income neighborhood and the Cunningham Township Community Garden serves many of their participants. By focusing on community gardens, the Growing Community Public Art Initiative seeks to directly benefit low-income neighborhoods and those who connect with the gardens through their focus on mitigating food insecurity. The artworks selected and installed will offer beautification and utility for residents and visitors who frequent the garden, offering greater access, enjoyment, and creative connection.



Mon. August 2nd, 2021 - Call for Art Released

Mon. Aug. 30th, 2021 - Deadline for Artwork Submissions

August 31st-Sept. 3rd , 2021 - Jury Selection Period

Fri. Sept. 3rd, 2021 - Notice to Selection Applicants

Sept. 15th - Sept. 25th, 2021 - Installation Period 

Sept. 25th - Oct. 15th, 2021 - Hybrid Virtual/Small Gathering Ribbon Cuttings


Guide to Accessible Design

Applicant proposals must conform to the guidance in the following Guide to Accessible Design provided by the City of Urbana. Proposals should outline how the artwork reflects diversity and incorporates a dynamic commitment to accessibility in all forms. Please consult the guide for additional broad considerations to support our mission of increasing the accessibility of the arts and amplifying the diversity of local culture.  


Applicant Workshop

Prospective applicants are invited to view the Growing Community Applicant Workshop, a 40-minute workshop provided by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Coordinator. The virtual workshop is forthcoming at



Hybrid virtual and small-gathering Growing Community Unveiling via ribbon cuttings commemorating Growing Community artworks will be held at each garden location between the dates of Sept. 20th, 2021 and Oct. 15th, 2021 together with the artists, gardeners, community members, City staff, and Urbana Arts and Culture Commissioners.


The Urbana Arts and Culture Program will produce a video documenting the project, engaging community member voices, and documenting the work of the participating artists and community gardens that will air on Urbana Public Television channel 6, YouTube, and in local media.


Submission Requirements

Artists are invited to submit digital images of art to be reproduced in adhesive vinyl and installed on benches, shade sails, or raised beds in participating gardens. Artists can also suggest temporary sculptural works for display. Artworks should reflect the values of community gardens, celebrating sustainability, diversity, the local food system, native plants, and community-building among neighbors.


Submitted images must be jpeg files, 300 dpi, labeled as "lastname_firstname_01.jpg," i.e. "smith_jane_01.jpg." Each applicant may submit no more than 3 unique digital images for consideration. If selected, artists will work with City of Urbana staff to size images correctly for display; thus high-quality versions of submitted images must be available. Submitted images should be no larger than 5MB each.

Submit an Application

For more information and to submit an application, download the formal Call for Art at and submit an application here!


Applicants with questions should contact the Urbana Arts and Culture Coordinator, Rachel Storm, via email at or via phone at 217-328-8265. 



The Growing Community Public Art Initiative is sponsored by the City of Urbana’s Arts and Culture Program and made possible by an AARP Community Challenge Grant. The AARP Community Challenge grant program is part of the nationwide AARP Livable Communities initiative, which helps cities, towns, villages and rural areas become great places to live for residents of all ages. Learn more about AARP Community Challenge at


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- Last Modified -August 9, 2021 - 5:44pm
- Author - RachelS