Creating with Community

RPQ revised

Learn more below about past Creating with Community residencies or click here to jump to the current RFQ.

In 2020, Erie Arts & Culture launched a pilot program called Creating with Community that empowered artists to serve as community leaders through the design and implementation of community-engaged art-centered social projects. In the pilot program, 14 artists worked together in teams of two after being paired with neighborhood organizations.

Stephanie Ciner (Agriculturalist) and Armando Reyes (Woodworker/Musician) were paired with the Bayfront East Side Taskforce (BEST) to explore how vacant lots in Erie's historic east bayfront can be transformed into community assets.  Through the community engagement process, the artist team identified a need for outdoor gathering and learning space. To activate vacant lots, Stephanie and Armando designed and hosted educational activities and and other communal events to stimulate gathering of neighborhood residents. The artists provided BEST with plans on how to further the work and create a permanent gathering space along East 5th Street. 

Samone (Photographer/Writer) and Michael Haas (Thespian/Writer) were paired with the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network (SSJNN) to explore how a sense of place can be created along a stretch of Parade Street between East 18th and East 24th Streets, which is a mix of commercial and residential properties. As part of the community engagement process, the artist team created a website designed to gather community ideas and feelings about Parade Street. Samone and Michael also hosted pop-up events within the neighborhood to stimulate thought and discussion about placemaking efforts and equity in Erie. Discussions addressed topics ranging from income disparity to issues concerning inclusion and diversity. The artists also visited with business owners to discuss their aspirations for Parade Street. Using feedback gathered from the community, the artists are producing a series of public art that will enhance the corridor's visual landscape. 


Marquis Wallace (Dancer/Visual Artist/Writer) and Lourdes Jasso (Photographer/Mixed-Media Artist) were paired with ServErie. The artists worked to activate Heritage Park, a newly built pocket park in east Erie. Marquis and Lourdes hosted meetings in the park and provided family friendly games and other activities, which were open to the public. While in residence, the artists identified a need to combat sentiments of disposability within the neighborhood. Marquis and Lourdes worked with neighborhood residents on the upkeep of the community gardens, picking up litter, and tending to overgrown lawns. The artists also installed barrels to collect rainwater, which was then used to water the community garden and an adjacent neighbor's garden. This residency also included a collaboration with visual artist AJ Noyes to create a mural on a fence that runs along the property line of Heritage Park.

Alex Anthes (Printmaker/Writer) and Fredy Huam an Mallqui (Woodworker) were paired with Our West Bayfront (OWB) to transform a vacant lot adjacent to the mini mall owned by the MLK Center.  The team held a community dialogue session where they created a pop-up living room in then-vacant lot, which inspired a series of open-ended interviews. Alex and Fredy recorded their conversations with neighborhood residents while sketching residents' portraits. Conversations centered around residents' experiences living in Erie's west bayfront, the pandemic, their family and support systems, social justice issues, spirituality, and other contemporary issues. Aligning their artistic disciplines, Alex and Fredy used the portraits and excerpts from interviews to create a public art project. The portraits of 50 neighborhood residents are featured in a colorful fence that surrounds the once vacant lot. Picnic tables were also installed in the lot, which created outdoor seating for the restaurant located within the mini mall. 


John Lyons (Filmmaker) and Soraya Johnson (Cinema Production Student) developed and implemented a virtual youth filmmaking course. Through this course, the artists taught students how to write, shoot, edit, and present an independent short film using a smartphone. All students received a membership to Community Access Media (CAM), where they edited their films and are able to enroll in future production and post-production courses. Students' films either had to highlight their culture or community or serve as a means of amplifying their voices. The students’ films will be featured in a youth film festival in 2021. 

Shasti O'Leary Soudant (Sculptor) and Esther Ortiz (Pinata Maker) have design an interactive piece of public art titled "Erie is Listening." This concept arose in response to a theme that was continuously presented to the artists during their community engagement sessions - hearing and listening. Members of the community felt that their aspirations and concerns were not being heard by those in leadership positions. Additionally, it was expressed that as a community, we can collectively do a better job of compassionately and empathetically listening to one another. In 2021, the artists will fabricate and install a series of colorful whisper dishes in Gridley Park and Nate Levy Park. 

Chris Schroder (Illustrator) and Jasse Camacho (Thespian) are creating a guide to outline best practices for pedestrian accommodations and safety in work zones. This project arose in response to all the development that's occurring in Downtown Erie. To accomplish this, Chris and Jasse are working with the City of Erie's offices of planning, engineering, and public works. The guide will bring awareness to challenges created for individuals with disabilities when navigating construction sites.



ActiveErie Logo FullColor

We are distributing a Request for Qualifications from artists for our 2021 program. We seek submissions from artists and creatives who are interested in collaborative and participatory approaches to art-making and community building. Artists who participate in the program must be willing to include community members as a central part of planning, implementing, and evaluating creative projects.

In October 2019, the City of Erie began a master planning process called Active Erie that envisions a network of streets that are beautiful, comfortable, and safe community spaces where people want to be, whether they are walking, riding a bike, taking public transit, or driving a vehicle. For the 2021 Creating with Community program, artists will work closely with the City of Erie’s Engineering and Planning Departments to design and execute projects that will address recommendations and issues identified during the Active Erie planning process.

Artist teams will work in partnership with the City of Erie’s Engineering and Planning Departments to design and execute projects that will address recommendations and issues identified during the Active Erie planning process.  These issues and recommendations are focused on public policy, system user education, and projects that help identify and build out the proposed network.  The project area is the 19th Street corridor, between Cherry Street on the west side of Erie to Parade Street on the east side of Erie.

Interested in applying to become a Creating with Community Artist?

Join us for an Information Session on January 19 at 6 PM. Learn more about this year's initiative and get all of your questions answered about the application.

Erie Arts & Culture will be present to walk through the program application and the City of Erie will be present to explain what the Active Transportation Plan is.

Please register here with Eventbrite.


City Seal 2020


Program goals include:

  • Residents, merchants, community organizers, artists, and culture-bearers are empowered to actively be involved in shaping the social character and built environment in their neighborhoods.
  • Public spaces are enhanced and activated through arts-centered social projects.
  • Address issues and recommendations identified in the plan
  • Assist in building out a bike and pedestrian network that is reflective of and responsive to the community it serves while balancing the realities of working within public spaces.
  • Bring creative problem solvers from the community and city hall together to address community challenges.


Artist teams will work in partnership with the City of Erie’s Engineering and Planning Departments to design and execute projects that will address recommendations and issues identified during the Active Erie planning process.  These issues and recommendations are focused on public policy, system user education, and projects that help identify and build out the proposed network.  The project area is the 19th Street corridor, between Cherry Street on the west side of Erie to Parade Street on the east side of Erie.

It is anticipated that team projects may help address issues that transcend the specific project area such as driver education around bicycle etiquette or the benefits of other modes of transportation on health or the environment.  In those situations, artists should see the selected corridor as an area to pilot or beta test those concepts.

Project teams should anticipate a high level of engagement with residents, community stakeholders, and the City of Erie. 

Artist projects should focus on and deliver solutions to on one or more of the following areas of interest:

  • Visual Landscape
  • Safety or the perception of safety
  • Wayfinding
  • Driver education and sharing the road
  • Health benefits of walking or cycling
  • Addressing points of conflict between drivers and pedestrian
  • ADA accessibility


Each neighborhood residency will include two artists. Each artist will be awarded a stipend of $5,500. Each residency will also include a small-to-moderate stipend for material expenses - at a minimum amount of $2,500 per team.

Erie Arts & Culture has funding to support six residencies in 2021 - providing paid opportunities for a total of 12 artists.


Artists chosen to participate in the Creating with Community program will receive a total stipend of $5,500 each. Payments will be split into thirds and processed in connection to project milestones and deliverables. Artists will operate as independent contractors and are expected to provide Erie Arts & Culture with a W9. At the end of the year, Erie Arts & Culture will provide artists with a 1099 for tax purposes.


All artists selected to participate in the Creating with Community program will be provided with formal training centered around community-engaged arts practices. Training will be spread over 3-5 virtual sessions and led by Erie-based community artist Tom Ferraro, co-founder of the Looking Glass Art Project.

Participation in the training is mandatory and critical to the success of this program.


Artist Applications Due January 22, 2021
Initial Meeting of Selection Committee January 27, 2021
Contracts Executed February 1, 2021
Announcement of Awards February 2, 2021
Training March 1 - March 19, 2021
Projects Design, Implementation, and Completion March 22 - August 27, 2021
Final Reports Due September 17, 2021


Artists must submit a copy of all items listed below as part of their application. Applications submitted without these necessary items and all information may not be included for consideration. Present your materials in the following order:

  • Letter of Interest (LOI), which should address:
    • Why are you interested in a neighborhood residency?
    • What are some previous projects, if any, that you’ve completed that are relatable to this opportunity?
    • What is your methodology, if you have one, for working within the community?
  • Artist Bio
  • Current CV
  • 5-7 Work Samples and descriptions

Erie Arts & Culture reserves the right to accept or reject any and all submittals, waive technicalities and informalities, and amend said Request for Qualifications as desired. Erie Arts & Culture reserves the right to negotiate with artists and to select artists that are most likely to achieve the project’s desired outcomes.


Submissions must be received by 4:00 p.m., EST, January 22, 2020. All materials must be submitted using Submittable and can be uploaded using the following link:

Apply here

If you have any questions, need additional information, or you are having difficulting submitting your application through Submittable, please contact Patrick Fisher (


Founded in 1960 as the Arts Council of Erie, Erie Arts & Culture is the regional arts agency for Northwestern Pennsylvania, as appointed by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA). Our role is to promote, support, and develop culture and creativity at the regional level; ensuring broad opportunities for residents and tourists throughout communities in Erie, Crawford, Venango, Warren, Mercer, and Lawrence counties to engage with the sector educationally, socially, and economically.  Our presence ensures that all communities - regardless of their geographic location or economic status - are systematically and equitably served.

In support of our mission, Erie Arts & Culture:

  • Provides tools, resources, and financial support to individuals and organizations that specifically utilize the arts and humanities as a platform to engage the broader community.
  • Grows the capacity of our sector to ensure extraordinary creative and cultural experiences.
  • Creates an environment in which artists and creative industries, representing a wide variety of disciplines, can thrive.
  • Funds opportunities for lifelong learning through the arts and humanities experiences in classrooms, institutions, and community spaces.
  • Consults on how creativity and culture can be a component in any development or redevelopment project.
  • Celebrates Erie's collective identity by preserving and promoting the region's cultural diversity.