Request for Proposals: Arts and Culture Consulting Services

Smart Growth America (SGA) is seeking proposals for consultant services for its Arts & Culture team.

Such services will support the Arts & Culture team’s thought leadership and programming and include but are not limited to program design, implementation, and reporting/evaluation, event planning, communications strategy, stakeholder research and engagement, and related support services. SGA is looking for qualifications from firms or individuals who can provide quality consulting services to SGA from 2023-2024.

The deadline to submit is Wednesday, July 26, 2023, 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time.


Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity.

The Arts & Culture team believes that arts and culture play a crucial role in supporting this vision by providing an organizing force for residents, business owners, and other stakeholders, particularly in marginalized and underinvested communities, to build power and work towards strengthening neighborhoods, by revealing the multifaceted character of communities, and by connecting residents with decision makers to collectively pursue smart, equitable policies and projects. In particular, SGA’s Arts & Culture team has established a leading national reputation and record supporting the integration of art and culture in transportation projects through Transportation for America.

Moving forward, the Arts & Culture team will build on its success in integrating arts and culture in transportation projects to explore more deeply the role of arts and culture in advancing racial equity and climate justice within, by, and through the Smart Growth movement, its partners, and practitioners, through social, cultural, and narrative change.

Project Goals and Scope of Services

SGA is seeking an individual consultant or a team of consultants to provide thought partnership and substantive support to the SGA Arts & Culture team in successfully designing and updating, planning, and executing several key programs in 2023 and 2024. Essential responsibilities include the following tasks and deliverables:

  • Stakeholder/Field Research and Engagement (10%)
    Work with SGA’s Arts & Culture team to identify and solicit key partners and stakeholders, including past and current SGA stakeholders, coalition members, and conference attendees, in signature programs and activities. Conduct targeted stakeholder and field research and analysis through interviews, surveys, and focus groups. Summarize and distill such analysis into clear reporting and recommendations. Research, outreach, and interviews of organizers and attendees of similar events and programming to identify unique opportunities and priorities, and potential areas of conflict, weakness, or redundancy for SGA programs and activities.
  • Program Design and Event Planning (75%)
    Design and update, plan, and assist in executing and evaluating key Arts & Culture programs, including designing and planning events, managing event budgets, designing and facilitating meetings, trainings, and workshops, coordinating project schedules, managing virtual and in-person meeting logistics, and conducting debriefing sessions.
    Provide meaningful thought partnership to the Arts & Culture team on content, curriculum, speakers, and event partners.
    Assist with designing event structure and developing and building out marketing and communications strategy.
    Assist with brainstorming and securing event speakers, site visits and community tours, workshops and activities, funders, sponsors, and other partners.
    Support program and event evaluation and measurement of impact.
  • Communications and storytelling (15%)
    Assist SGA’s communications, grants management, and fundraising activities through research, writing, and editing, for blog posts, newsletters, reports and presentations, and resources such as The Scenic Route, grant proposals and reports, and other written resources as needed.
    Prepare content to support Arts & Culture communications, including building and editing presentations, creating worksheets, fact sheets, and informational documents, and other resources as needed.


SGA intends to award a one-year contract. Work is planned to begin September 1, 2023, and conclude August 31, 2024. It is anticipated that all work will be completed remotely, and that the available funds for the project will be $50,000. Payment will occur on a monthly basis corresponding to a negotiated timeline for deliverables.

Evaluation criteria

SGA is seeking a diverse pool of candidates. Black, Indigenous, and people of color-led companies are especially encouraged to apply. Applicants will be selected based on the following desired criteria:
Substantial experience, thought leadership, and entrepreneurship at the intersection of arts, culture, and design, and transportation, community development, community organizing, urban planning, climate resilience, or other related fields;
Demonstrated commitment to racial equity or climate justice vis-à-vis arts and culture, transportation, land use and development, or climate resilience;
Leadership in challenging the status quo and designing, instigating, and implementing institutional, social, cultural, narrative, or policy change within the arts, culture, design, or community development, transportation, or climate resilience sectors;
Experience working and trust-building in and/or with community-based organizations, artists, culture bearers, and arts and culture organizations within communities of color or other marginalized communities; and
Facility in marketing and communications or fundraising and development at an issue-based advocacy nonprofit organization.

Proposal submission

Interested applicants should submit their proposal via email to Marian Liou, director of Arts & Culture at Smart Growth America, at [email protected] by Wednesday, July 26, 2023, by 11:59pm EST.

Items to include in proposal:

  • Overview: A letter of interest of no more than one page, describing your interest and relevant experience in this opportunity;
  • Background: Brief resumes of key staff, including descriptions of three past projects relevant to this RFP and Smart Growth America within the past five years.
  • Proposed budget and rates: Proposed budget, including hourly rate(s) by functional role, and estimated cost breakdown to develop and produce the tasks and deliverables described above. Actual contract hours will be determined in collaboration with SGA after selection.
  • References: A list of three professional references. At least one reference should be a current/former client, and at least one reference should be a current/former project partner.

Anticipated selection timeline

If interviews are necessary, the short-listed firms or individuals will be invited to participate in an interview process with an evaluation committee, to be scheduled during the week of August 7-11, 2023 (tentative). SGA will coordinate a specific interview date and time with short-listed firms by the week of July 31, 2023 (tentative). SGA reserves the right to award this contract based on initial proposals received without formal interviews and to award all or part of this project to one or more firms.

SGA will make a selection by the week of August 14, 2023, and will notify candidates after selection is complete. Questions regarding the RFP should be sent to [email protected] by Friday, July 21, 2023.

Full and open competition policy

SGA strives to ensure full and open competition, guarantee the objective performance of contracts, and eliminate the possibility for unfair competitive advantages, and therefore SGA uses a competitive process for procurements that exceed $15,000.

Proposal selection shall be based on overall value to SGA considering responsiveness to the solicitation, price, quality, alignment of proposer staff experience with work needed, and other relevant factors. SGA will also consider other benefits associated with the procurement in the selection process, including but not limited to, the opportunity to use small, disadvantaged, women-owned, and minority-owned firms.

Creative Placemaking