Tips and Requirements for Applying to Northern Spark 2018


Apply in 4 steps

We understand that it can be daunting to read through all these materials, but we want to be as clear as possible as to what we are looking for and how we are evaluating proposals. Find the submission link here.

Step 1: Which Call?

Select the call you are most interested in.

Step 2: Application materials

The application process is entirely online. Applicants are asked to submit the following materials

  • Project Description (100 words or less)
  • Commonality (250 words or less) How the project relates to the festival theme.
  • Primary artist contact information
  • Project concept (no more than 2 pages). Describe your project. What is it? How will people experience it? What makes it special? Why is it valuable to present at Northern Spark? If there is a technical component to the project, make sure to explain it. 
  • Project Visuals (1-5 images) Drawings or illustrations of what your proposed project will look like. These can range from a sketch on a napkin to CAD drawings to altered photos. To the extent possible, give us a sense of the size and footprint of the project. Are you looking for a 10’ wall or a 100’ wall? If you have a specific site in mind, state it. Otherwise, what are the characteristics you are looking for, which are important to the project.
  • Project Layout and Location (1 page maximum) Provide a sketch of the ideal layout of your project. Describe it minimally. For example, “Activity in a 20′ x 20′ space with a projection at one end of approximately 16′ x 9′. If you know exactly where you would like it to be (a specific room at the Library or the SW corner of The Commons, etc) include that, but this is NOT necessary. What are the key site characteristics you need – a wall? flat space? quiet? etc.
  • Brief bio(s) (max 1 page for each primary artist)
  • Work samples. Images, video or audio files of past work.  Up to 10 images and 1 video or audio of past, preferably related work.
  • A budget for the total amount you’re requesting for your project. (max 1 page) Note: We will not be evaluating whether you have the best price for your materials; we want to see that the major budget needs are reasonable.

You may download a sample proposal here and additional sample budgets here.

Step 3: Evaluation Criteria

These are the primary criteria that we use in reviewing your proposal. Not every project will meet every criteria equally. We’re not expecting perfection. Think of these as some tips for how to present your ideas.

  • Theme. How does your project relate to the theme of commonality?
  • Artistic quality. The proposed project must be an original piece by an artist or artist team. It can be serious or funny, spectacular or intimate. Projects that are commercialized or are intended to sell a product will be not be considered.
  • Sustainability. What materials will you use to create your project? Are they recyclable? We encourage artists to consider potential waste while conceiving of, creating and implementing their project.
  • Participatory. How will people interact with your project? Our goal is that many Northern Spark projects have a component of direct audience participation (interaction other than watching or listening).
  • Duration. This year Northern Spark is 2 nights for 5 hours each night. How does your project take advantage of this duration? All Northern Spark projects must take place on both festival nights.
  • Nighttime. How will your project operate at night, in the dark? How will people see it?
  • Crowded. Tens of thousands of people attend Northern Spark.  How will your project deal with large crowds?
  • Feasibility. Project set up happens the day of the first festival night.  Depending on location, some works can be left set up in between festival nights, while some may need to completed removed and set up again the next night.  Describe how your project is feasible to set up and take down within these parameters.
  • Sound. City ordinances prohibit amplified sound in outdoor space after 10 pm.
  • Legal. Projects must meet all necessary city laws, ordinances, and codes. Festival staff will help with these questions after projects are selected.

Northern will assist and facilitate permitting, electricity, permissions, etc, but artists are responsible for the creation, production and execution of their project.

Step 4: Apply

Submissions are due by midnight, February 5, 2018.

Find the submission link in each call and here. We encourage you to review the form and apply ahead of time. 

Questions? Email