How Artists Add Value to City Planning with Alisa Sargsyan

What’s the value of including artists in city planning? Simply put, it makes our cities stronger! In this podcast episode, NINE dot ARTS CEO Martha Weidmann explores the role of artists in planning with Alisa Sargsyan, the Cultural Arts Commissioner for the City of Kirkland, Washington and a distinguished artist, composer, piano player, and educator. They discuss their collaboration on the recently installed public art sculpture at Kirkland Fire Station No. 22, where the artist team Tooza Design helped honor the fire department’s history through creative interpretations of service, hope, and resiliency. The pair discuss the process of curating this installation, from administering a public call for artists to evaluating, selecting, and unveiling the final piece. Throughout this process and other city planning efforts, Alisa proves why artists are needed to give voice to new perspectives, offer creative solutions, build connections with locals, and ensure plans aren’t made in a silo. Tune in to learn more about the value of involving local creatives in both public and private projects that impact the built environment.

Streets of Service by Shelly and Rob Beishline of Tooza Design for Fire Station 22 in Kirkland, WA

Alisa Sargsyan is an Armenian-American artist, award winning composer, piano player, and arts educator. A University of Washington alumna, Alisa holds a Master of Music degree in Composition and a Doctor of Arts degree from the Armenian Academy of Arts and Science. As a Cultural Arts Commissioner for the City of Kirkland, Alisa advises the City Council on strategic art planning and acquisition and collaborates with other stakeholders to develop and implement policies, programs, and initiatives that foster artistic expression, cultural awareness, and civic engagement. Some of the projects she has contributed to include the Park Lane Outdoor Sculpture Gallery, the Cross Kirkland Corridor Public Art Integration Plan, Kirkland Fire Stations, and Utility Boxes Art wraps.

As a professional musician, Alisa actively collaborates with various arts organizations and  cultural audiences, such as the Women in Music Foundation, the London Silent Film Festival, the Armenian Musical Assembly, and the Armenian Cultural Association of Washington. One of the latest fruitful collaborations resulted in a classical ballet, “The Little Prince,” composed by Alisa Sargsyan and premiered by Karin Kirkland School of Dance at the Meydenbauer Theatre in Bellevue, WA. Alisa is also a co-founder of GALA Violin and Piano Duo, performing classical and modern music worldwide. Their pilot CD “Armenia! Timeless Musical Journey” has been successfully sold online. Since July 2023 Alisa has served on the Board of Directors of the Gallery Concerts cultural organization, presenting chamber music to the Seattle community. With over 20 years of experience in arts and culture, Alisa is passionate about promoting and supporting cultural diversity, creativity, and education in her community.

Dot Dot Dot is the continuing conversation around art and placemaking in the built environment. Hosted by NINE dot ARTS CEO Martha Weidmann, episodes explore art, culture, community, and more with a range of reputable business leaders. Tune in biweekly wherever you get your podcasts!

Request for Qualifications: Bozeman Fire Station No. 2 Public Art Installation

NINE dot ARTS and the City of Bozeman, MT are seeking qualified artists for the creation of an exterior public sculpture at Fire Station #2 at 575 West Kagy Boulevard, Bozeman, MT 59715. This iconic sculpture should weave a modern, innovation narrative that artfully intertwines the distinct essences of the Bozeman Fire Department, Montana State University (on whose campus the fire station resides), and the Museum of the Rockies (which sits across the street from the station). Drawing inspiration from these sites, the sculpture will reflect the evolving spirit of this diverse city and engage both vehicular travelers and pedestrians in an intriguing experience. 

Preference will be given to Montana-based artists, though the selection committee is open to fresh perspectives from afar. The overall goal is to install a sculpture that sparks curiosity, celebrates Bozeman’s history, enhances its public art collection, and invites engagement from passersby.

Artwork will be selected by a project steering committee based on artist eligibility and fulfillment of the selection criteria described in the RFQ package linked below. The selected artist(s) will have a total budget of $68,972 that accounts for fabrication, installation, artist fees, materials, labor costs for assistants, insurance, permits, etc. The deadline to submit is Friday, October 27th, 2023 at 12:00PM MT. 

How to Submit:

Submit your qualifications via email to with a subject line that clearly identifies the RFQ title, artists’ name, and the due date/time. The file size limit is 25 MB and only one PDF file will be accepted. Please direct any questions about the RFQ to Valeria Serrano Vélez, Curator, at (720)-491-1307,

NOTE: Valeria is out of the office through October 10th. For any inquiries through October 10th, please direct your email to 

View the project information deck and submission requirements here.

Please review these carefully and follow the application instructions to ensure a successful submission.

Where to Find Art Opportunities and How to Win Them

At NINE dot ARTS, we collaborate with artists whose work aligns with our clients’ brand and vision. But often communities, municipalities, and cities don’t have the time or resources to research and curate artists in this way. Instead, they’ll host an artist invitational, Request for Qualifications, or Request for Proposals. So what’s the difference?

  • Artist Invitational – When an organization, community, municipality, or city has a public art project and a group of artists in mind who they know are qualified, they’ll invite those artists to submit qualifications and/or a proposal design before selecting the winner.
  • Request for Qualifications (RFQ) – When an organization, community, municipality, or city has a public art project and wants to create a shortlist of artists, they’ll seek qualifications from select individuals (such as their artist statement, resume, and examples of past projects) and narrow their list down before soliciting a design proposal.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) – When an organization, community, municipality, or city has a public art project and a general vision for it (medium of the piece, what it should represent, the associated story, etc.), they will seek proposals from artists inquiring about their idea for the piece. Proposal elements vary by project, but generally include a cover letter, portfolio, resume/CV, written and visual narrative for the intended artwork, and timeline/budget. Often, a group of artists will be given a design stipend to create a proposal before the final artist is selected. 

Before seeking out RFQs and RFPS, be sure your website and social media explicitly make clear that you are available for commissions. It’s a simple task that many artists forget. Additionally, post photos, details, and testimonials related to other projects you’ve completed and those that are in progress. This demonstrates your credibility and skill to proposal committees who may end up reviewing your work. 

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The 2023 State of the Art Report

NINE dot ARTS knows the immense value that art – and the artists who create it – bring to the built environment. But their impact isn’t always recognized, and their potential sometimes goes untapped. That’s why we produce the State of the Art Report to grow the body of research available on creative placemaking – the integration of art, culture, and community-engaged design into the real estate development process.

This year’s report reflects the responses of hundreds of real estate professionals across regions and industries, revealing powerful insights about how architecture, design, and art and culture work together to culminate in successful placemaking.


Read the report to see what these leaders are saying about how art like yours influences their projects’ success. And use these insights to leverage your own artwork for public and private spaces! The report will demonstrate how your art can… 

  • differentiate a space;
  • increase the return on investment for a space and its owners;
  • support Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals for commercial developers; and
  • create a positive social impact within the community at large!

Follow along on LinkedIn and Instagram as we dive deeper into findings from the 2023 State of the Art Report over the coming weeks. Plus, tune into dot dot dot: The NINE dot ARTS Podcast to hear these findings brought to life through inspiring conversations with industry leaders on art and placemaking in the built environment. Available wherever you get your podcasts!

Infusing Your Development with Happiness and Culture with Stuart Semple

Stuart Semple is a distinguished multidisciplinary artist known for unleashing happiness in communities around the world through his eccentric, often interactive art installations. In this engaging episode, he shares some of his wildest creative endeavors including Happy City, for which he created several large-scale public interventions throughout Denver, Colorado with the goal of dismantling social barriers, connecting community, and promoting individual and collective wellbeing. He and host Martha Weidmann discuss our collaboration on this project and the Happiness Headquarters we hosted to bring surprise and delight to locals and visitors through several art activities in downtown Denver. Additionally, they explore the importance of happiness and culture in both public and private sector projects, with Stuart emphasizing that “commerce follows culture,” and therefore art and culture must be prioritized to achieve social and financial success.

Discussed in the Episode: 
Stuart Semple
The Dairy Block
Art Collection at The Dairy Block
Happiness Headquarters
Joy Sandwich
Giant Gallery in Bournemouth
Virtual Museum of Online Art
Stuart Semple on Instagram

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Request for Qualifications: Bozeman, Montana Public Library

NINE dot ARTS and the City of Bozeman, MT are seeking qualified artists for the creation of an aerial sculpture to be installed above the Kendeda Hub Lounge at the Bozeman Public Library. The sculpture should be dynamic in form, with multidimensional viewpoints and captivating colors that draw people in. Qualifications from local Montana-based artists are highly encouraged!

Artwork will be selected by a project steering committee based on artist eligibility and fulfillment of the selection criteria detailed on page 8 of the RFQ package (available at the link below). The selected artist(s) will have a total budget of $24,684 that accounts for the artwork itself, transportation to the site, and installation.

How to Submit:

Submit your qualifications via email to with a subject line that clearly identifies your name, the RFP title, and the due date/time.

Find all the project details and what to include in your submission HERE. The submission deadline is Thursday, August 3rd, 2023 by 5pm MT.

Please direct administrative questions regarding proposal procedures to Mike Maas, City Clerk, at (406)-582-2321,

Please direct questions about the RFQ to Valeria Serrano Vélez, Curator, at (720)-491-1307,

Request for Qualifications: Kirkland, Washington Fire Stations 21 and 26

NINE dot ARTS and the City of Kirkland, Washington are seeking artists for 2 public art commissions for Fire Station 21 and Fire Station 26. The artwork is expected to be installed by December 2024.

Artwork will be selected by a project steering committee based on artist eligibility and fulfillment of the selection criteria detailed below. Select artists will receive a design fee (minimum of $500) to develop a full proposal for the specified art location. The deadline to submit your qualifications is August 18th, 2023. 



  • July 25th, 2023 – Questions due in writing to
  • August 18th, 2023 – Deadline to submit
  • September 7th, 2023 – Finalists announced with a stipend for project concept designs
  • October 2nd, 2023 – Finalists project concept designs submitted
  • December 1st, 2023 – Commission awarded
  • December 2024 – Project installation

Demystifying the Artist Statement

Though we’d all love for our artwork to “speak for itself,” the truth is that it’s always influenced by the unique perspectives of those who interact with it. That’s why an artist statement can help communicate key elements of your work, rather than strictly defining it for your audience.

A good artist statement will share with your audience the creative process, intentions, and themes behind your work, helping them better understand your art without explicitly dictating its meaning.

But where do you start? And when do you use it? We’ve got you covered. 

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The Business Case for Art in Real Estate with Juanita Hardy

Why You Should Listen: As a longtime art and business leader and creative placemaking consultant to the Urban Land Institute, Juanita Hardy knows firsthand the value that art, culture, and community-engaged design bring to real estate development projects across the globe. If you’re an artist tuning into this episode, make note of how Juanita emphasizes the valuable role of artists in transforming the built environment. Think of how you might leverage her insights to market your own art business, or to pursue creative collaborations with curators, developers, or corporate buyers. And remember that beyond its aesthetic appeal, your art can bring immense social and financial value to the places we live, work, and play!

In this inspiring episode, Juanita Hardy shares best practices and case studies that demonstrate the many benefits of creative placemaking and placekeeping, encouraging real estate leaders to engage artists early in their projects, and to shift their thinking from “What is the cost of incorporating art and culture into my project?” to “What is the cost of NOT doing so?” or “What is the value it will add?”

According to Juanita, such value comes in the form of “soft” ROI metrics such as community engagement, civic pride, and cross-cultural understanding, which influence “hard” ROI metrics like shorter approvals, faster lease-ups, less turnover, and increased revenue. Altogether, the episode reinforces why artists are critical for developing more comprehensive and creative solutions that benefits not just developers, but society as a whole.

Discussed in the Episode 

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NINE dot ARTS Virtual Portfolio Review for Artists April 21st, 2023

Friday, April 21, 2023

10am-12pm MST / 12pm-2pm EST / 9am-11am PST 

Want feedback on your artwork and how it might fit into a corporate collection?

Join our virtual portfolio review to get 20 minutes of expert feedback from a NINE dot ARTS curator. Simply share your bio, artist’s statement, questions for the curator, and up to 5 images of your work to apply. We strongly encourage applications from individuals who identify as underrepresented and from artists based in the Southeast.


On April 3rd, we’ll announce the 35 artists who have been selected for our virtual event. Keep an eye on for more upcoming events and opportunities