A Request for Proposals (RFP) is used by an architect/engineer/designer that is seeking an art consultant or artist with a proposal for the conceptual approach to the project. An RFP would define explicit criteria for the project and would ask the art consultant to create and submit plans for the production of a desired public artwork. Those plans are then evaluated by the commissioning project team, which would make their selection based upon the qualifications and criteria defined in the RFP.
RFPs can be an effective way to consider and evaluate the suitability of an art consultant when a limited number of consultants are invited to participate in the selection process, the criteria for selection is explicit and uniform. Proposals should only be requested when the project team is prepared to consider the proposal as a conceptual approach to the project and not the final design. Requests for Proposals ask artists to develop and submit their ideas for a commission. The project team should ensure the artist retains copyright of all ideas presented as part of the proposal, even if those ideas are not ultimately selected for the commission.
A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) asks art consultants and artists interested in a commission to submit information about their training, previous work, and other forms of evidence of their ability to create a public artwork.
The RFQ and RFP try to strike a balance between giving the artist a free hand and also ensuring that the artwork produced is desirable and appropriate to the public and commissioning agency.