RFP for Cleveland Clinic BioRepository Public Art Project

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RFP for Cleveland Clinic BioRepository Public Art Project




Project Introduction

In conjunction with the June 2021 inauguration of a BioRepository building currently under construction on Cedar Avenue at East 100th St., Cleveland Clinic Art + Design Institute in collaboration with Karamu House, will commission an artist/s to engage residents of the Fairfax neighborhood in a social practice based process resulting in the production of a public-facing art project on the BioRepository site.

About the BioRepository

The purpose of the BioRepository is to collect and store biospecimens to be used in scientific research. It will house (among other things) the Minority Men’s Biobank and a Research Access Center, a community space intended to educate potential donors about the value of participating in research. Building on established initiatives within the community including the Minority Men’s Health Fair, Cleveland Clinic intends to further cultivate connections with the Fairfax neighborhood with the goal of improving health outcomes for its residents. This can only be achieved by building trust with the community—listening, understanding needs and providing education about the importance of specimens to biomedical research. Aiming to establish the most diverse biobank in the nation, Cleveland Clinic acknowledges that researchers must understand each community’s particular health issues in order to effectively address persistent disparities. Doctors and researchers at Cleveland Clinic including Dr. Charles Modlin, founder of the Minority Men’s Health Fair and Biobank, will provide information and educational resources about the BioRepository and its potential to impact long-term health disparities. Dr. Modlin has stated, “We have found that trust is the most important factor [in improving] the health and wellness of people of color, and only until we can achieve that trust within the community will we be successful in engaging them to participate in research studies.”

Cleveland Clinic engagement in Fairfax Neighborhood

Situated between downtown Cleveland and University Circle, Fairfax has a rich artistic and cultural heritage. Karamu House, the nation’s oldest African American producing theatre and a collaborating partner for the project, also resides in Fairfax. In 2012, residents numbered 6,239, 53% of whom had incomes below 150% of the poverty level. Unemployment was 28%. 95% of the population was African American. The lack of resources suggested by that data was substantiated in roundtable meetings initiated in 2018 by Clinic CEO Dr. Tom Mihaljevic. As a result of those discussions, Cleveland Clinic is engaged in ongoing initiatives involving jobs, community revitalization, food security—including a new supermarket, housing and primary healthcare. Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine recently started the FRESH (Food Resources for Empowerment and Security in Healthy Living) Fairfax initiative to address community-identified health disparities. While inroads have been made, lack of healthcare access and poor health outcomes remain critical concerns despite Cleveland Clinic’s proximity.

Role of Cleveland Clinic Art Program

The Art Program, part of Cleveland Clinic’s Art + Design Institute, crafts engaging, meaningful interactions with contemporary art within a healthcare setting. Integral to the healing environment, the art collection is designed to present a broad range of perspectives, promoting empathy and inclusion by making visible the diversity of patients, visitors, caregivers and experiences. The Art Program will oversee the BioRepository commission and provide logistical support to the artist/s throughout the process.

Role of Karamu House

Karamu House will provide convening space for artist/s and community members as well as connection between the artist/s and community stakeholders. In addition, Karamu will contribute to the overall effort to empower Fairfax neighborhood residents with knowledge and understanding of the BioRepository’s purpose and why participation in research is critical to the future health and wellbeing of the community.

Project Information and Goals

The artist/s will be asked to explore health disparity-related issues—causes, results and potential remedies—by engaging community members in conversations, communal artistic processes, storytelling and/or otherwise contributing to the final artistic output. It is understood that no single project can materially address all of the above-mentioned issues, however through the process of exploration, particular aspects will come into focus. Community engagement will be supported by Karamu House, Cleveland Clinic Art + Design Institute and biomedical researchers. Recognizing historical and present-day reasons for distrust of medical research among people of color, the Clinic aims to continue to build trust with Fairfax residents, in turn facilitating research and care intended to address core health disparity issues. As a social practice-based project, the process of working with community members and soliciting participation through inclusion, inspiration, education and creative problem-solving is equally important as the public-facing, permanent end product.

Submission Requirements

The artist/s’s proposal should include an explanation of how he/she/they will approach questions of health disparity and minority underrepresentation in biomedical research including how the artist/s will engage community. General form/approach/medium of the final project must be provided with drawings or samples, although it is understood that the final project will be determined in part through the collaborative process. Prior examples of successful collaborative and social practice projects are preferred. A general budget outline must be provided. Although open to all applicants, artists from Fairfax and surrounding neighborhoods are encouraged to apply. Please send all materials to Ellen Rudolph, Art Program Curator and Senior Director, Art + Design Institute: rudolpe@ccf.org.

Project dates

November 6: Submission deadline

November 13: Artists notified of selection

January 2021: First community meeting

March 2021: Revised plans and drawings for final work

June 2021 (exact date TBD): Installation

June/July 2021(exact date TBD): Completed project and inauguration of Biorepository


$75,000 total project budget including artist’s fee, all material and production costs and installation. First installment of $25,000 will be made upon completion of a contract, but before December 31, 2020.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 18 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England.