Request for Proposals for Holiday Ornament Project – Union Square Alliance

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The Union Square Alliance (The Alliance), a 501(c)(4) property-based business improvement district, is seeking proposals from local artists to partner for a public art project for Holiday Season 2022. The Alliance’s goal is to create a unique, art walk through the Union Square District as a special program which will be part of the holiday programming in Union Square.

The Union Square Alliance (Alliance) is a 27-block assessment district in downtown San Francisco that is comprised of more than 580 parcels and thousands of storefront and upper floor businesses. Long considered by many as “the heart of San Francisco” and a starting point for many first-time visitors, Union Square’s attractions contained in this dense urban core – the famous cable cars, historic Union Square Park, renowned restaurants, luxury hotels, and one of the largest concentrations of retail shopping on the West Coast – make it San Francisco’s #1 visitor destination. The Alliance’s mission of keeping the district’s streets and public spaces clean, safe, attractive, and vibrant is conducted through the organization’s four core service areas: Clean and Safe, Marketing and Communications, Advocacy and Public Affairs, and Streetscapes and Public Realm. The Alliance’s FY21-22 assessment budget was approximately $6.3M and comprised of 14 full-time employees.

The Alliance is planning a variety of holiday activations for 2022. As Union Square and the city of San Francisco move forward to recover from the pandemic, an essential component will be highlighting and activating the district during the holiday season. The overall goal of this project is to create a “scavenger hunt” experience by placing larger than life ornaments throughout the district and encourage visitors to discover them all, thereby attracting visitors to wander through the Union Square District and help to drive traffic to the surrounding businesses.

The Alliance is seeking seven artists who have demonstrated artistic talents and a unique perspective of Union Square. Each selected artist would be responsible for painting one larger-than-life, 30lbs, fiberglass ornament which would be secured to a plastic platform. The theme of this holiday season is “Winter Wanderland” as we encourage visitors and locals to rediscover Union Square and downtown San Francisco and wander around to experience all it has to offer. To maintain consistency, we ask the artists to only use outdoor paint, which can be purchased at Home Depot, and not to include other materials. Only using paint will also limit the amount of vandalism that might occur. If the ornament does get vandalized, the Alliance will contact the artist to see how this can be resolved. The ornaments will be on display for a 7-week period from mid-November through the end of December. The Alliance will take responsibility to place the ornaments around the district and add QR codes to the bases. The QR code will lead to a website page showing the various locations of the ornaments and a link to the artist’s information. The Alliance will create a special social media campaign around the ornaments to measure its success, always crediting the artists, and coordinate a “scavenger hunt” competition. This activation will also be promoted in the overall marketing the Alliance will complete for this holiday season.

– Create a theme and design for the ornament
– Get approval from the Alliance to move forward with the design
– Pick up the ornament from the Alliance (the Alliance will not be accountable for transport). The ornament is 42” in diameter, 60” tall will the cap, and 30lbs.
– Sand down the ornament. This can be done using a sander. The material of the ornament is fiberglass, removing the topcoat will create a good surface to paint. We do recommend adding a white base coat
– Paint the ornament
– Add a topcoat to the ornament to protect it from the outdoor elements
– Return the ornament to the Alliance

The Alliance envisions entering into a 4-month contract with the chosen artists that may be extended as needed. The Alliance will provide a stipend of $1,000 to cover the production costs including materials, travel, and transportation if applicable.

– Provide a portfolio of your work
– A brief explanation of why you would like to be part of this project
– A paragraph about your ideas for the ornament
– Examples of the direction of your idea including colors and style
– Artist must legally be allowed to work in the United States

Proposals are due to the Alliance by: 08/31/2022. Email proposals to Eva Schouten (Alliance Public Realm Associate) at or call 415-781-7880 x110 with any questions.

09/09/2022 – Submit proposal
09/16/2022 – Receive approval
09/30/2022 – Provide Alliance with Final Design
10/07/2022 – Receive approval by the Alliance
10/07/2022 – 10/14/2022 – Pick up ornament
11/21/2022 – 11/25/2022 – Bring ornament to Alliance for placement in the public realm