ArtWorks News

Request for Proposal: Renaming and Rebranding Services

ArtWorks RFP (formatted)

ArtWorks is seeking proposals from an agency or a collective of qualified individuals to provide research/evaluation, strategy, positioning, and naming services. In addition to creating a new name recommendation, ArtWorks seeks a brand assessment to tie to future brand and new name, analysis of personality and brand experience to connect with the many stakeholders and audiences it serves. (Phase 1)

If a new name is selected, approved, and after legal vetting, ArtWorks will begin working with an agency or a collective of qualified individuals to provide services for developing a full visual identity system/brand toolkit as well as recommendations for brand activation and implementation. (Phase 2)

We believe the right partner(s) will advance our mission and unearth our powerful and unique story. Please indicate if you are interested in one phase or both phases.

Renaming and establishing a strong brand identity is important because:

  • ArtWorks is experiencing growth via programming, employees, and location with the opening of a new creative campus in late 2024/early 2025. This new campus will be an arts hub with workshops, studios, and event space in an emerging arts district.
  • ArtWorks wants to have clear differentiation of its brand in both the national marketplace and local region. Within the Cincinnati region, there is major and ongoing confusion among ArtWorks and ArtsWave brands/organizations (reference research report “The Greater Cincinnati Survey, Fall 2021 in appendix).
  • ArtWorks seeks a fresh and distinctive name that will not only set it apart but also establish clear ownership of the brand on a national scale.

About ArtWorks

At ArtWorks, we believe in creating opportunities to change the world through art. By collaborating on art projects that span across generations, we aim to create significant social impact together. Our efforts produce numerous advantages for the communities we serve, including opportunities for artists’ employment and apprenticeship, fostering civic pride, generating economic impact, and contributing to public art and the beautification of neighborhoods.

Our mission is to create community-based public art that provides career opportunities for artists of all ages.

In 1995, Mayor of Cincinnati, Roxanne Qualls led a group of civic leaders to visit a program in Chicago called Gallery 37, a summer workforce program for teens in the arts. She felt this model would be successful in Cincinnati, Ohio. The program was launched under the umbrella of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative in the summer of 1996. Tamara Harkavy was the Founding Director of the program and helped to establish ArtWorks as a legal non-profit entity, Art Opportunities Inc. dba ArtWorks, organized and operated for collective and public benefit with an independent board of directors.

In 2000, ArtWorks launched its first city-wide public art program the Big Pig Gig with 425 public art installations across the region.

When ArtWorks launched its mural program in 2007, there was only one mural in the city. Mayor of Cincinnati, Mark Mallory invited ArtWorks to design a civic public mural program for the city’s 52 neighborhoods with youth employment at its core. This is a unique model in the country for urban mural programs. ArtWorks creates jobs and pays a living wage to hundreds of artists and youth from disadvantaged neighborhoods.

ArtWorks was a founding creative partner for BLINK, the nation’s largest immersive event. This awe-inspiring free, public art event takes place over four nights in the urban core of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky with large-scale projection mapping, media light, interactive light sculptures, murals, and more by local, national and international artists. BLINK attracted over 2 million attendees across the four-day event, resulting in a direct economic impact of $126 million dollars. Additionally, the event directly supported or created 1,687 jobs and generated $1.5 million dollars in direct artist commissions, honorariums, and art fees.

Now the organization completes 40+ large-scale public art projects annually and boasts well over 300 large-scale outdoor murals and thousands of other projects including sculpture, bike racks, benches, indoor murals, videos, dance performances, and other arts outcomes. ArtWorks is both a regional and national leader for its model and impact. On average, ArtWorks is contacted by five cities annually with requests for consulting and mentorship to build similar programs.

Today Cincinnati is known as a top city for public art and murals, thanks to ArtWorks’ legacy and impact. ArtWorks has employed over 4,000 young artists ages 14–21 and over 3,500 teaching and professional artists from the region, investing an average of $1 million in salaries to artists annually. The organization has completed more than 14,000 public and private art works of art, including public sculpture, light-based installations and more than 300 permanent outdoor murals, contributing to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination.

Cincinnati has been named a “Top 10” city in the nation for public art (USA Today) and in 2020 and 2022 was recognized in the top 20 large-scale cultural arts cities by SMU Data Arts. ArtWorks murals were called out as a significant contributor.

Youth are a Part of Something Big. ArtWorks Youth Apprentices are paid seasonal employees of ArtWorks. Through a job opportunity with its programs, youth develop lifelong friendships, enhance their career readiness skills, and create public art that makes a difference in the community. ArtWorks Youth Apprentices receive mentoring from professional artists, experiential on-the-job learning, and professional development opportunities to gain workplace hard and soft skills, and SEL (social & emotional learning).

Regional/Southwest Ohio Impact.

  • 59% of youth are from under-served households
  • 70% of youth and artists live within the City of Cincinnati
  • 50+ Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods have ArtWorks projects
  • 40+ community partnerships formed to create civic & public art projects

Benefits of Art in Public Spaces.

  • Reduces Crime, Vandalism, Littering
  • Increases Sense of Safety
  • Talent Attraction & Retention
  • Creative Place-Making (Distinct Identity)
  • Encourages Civic Dialogue & Ownership
  • Connects Artists with Communities
  • Enhances Public’s Appreciation for Art

Economic Impact.

  • Positive impact on Real Estate Values & Retail Sales*
  • Employs Creative Talent
  • Attracts attention to region, resulting in economic benefit**

*Commercial Corridors: A Strategic Investment Framework, Econsult Corporation, March 2009

** Americans for the Arts: Monograph 2004

 ArtWorks Target Audiences (prospects and participants):

  • Community Leaders and Businesses willing to invest in artists.
  • Existing Donors (Individuals, Foundations, Corporations, Community Leaders, Grant organizations, Alumni)
  • New Donors/Prospects
  • Community Partners
  • Current Employees, Board and Volunteers
  • Prospective Employees
  • Residents and Visitors to Greater Cincinnati

ArtWorks is governed by a board of directors (30 members) who meet six times per year or additionally depending on the needs of the organization. ArtWorks’ Senior Leadership Team includes the CEO, Senior Director of Advancement

(Fundraising), Senior Director of Marketing & Communications, Senior Director of Impact (Programs), and Senior Director of Finance & Talent (HR). They set strategy, the organization’s budget, lead fundraising, strategic planning, measurement and reporting of impact, as well as staff development and evaluation.

ArtWorks’ leaders are committed to continuous learning including investing in trainings, such as racial equity training and design thinking. Staff bring decades of experience, capacity, knowledge, and skills in their chosen fields and predominantly from working across the Cincinnati nonprofit community. ArtWorks hires alumni directly from its program to work as staff in our administration whenever possible.

This lived experience and direct knowledge of the program is important to ensure we meet the needs of those served by ArtWorks. The CEO & Artistic Director of ArtWorks, Colleen Houston was a youth apprentice when she was 18 years old and has been working with the organization over the past 27 years.

In 2021, ArtWorks moved to a historically important African American center in Cincinnati, Walnut Hills. We strive to be a positive neighbor and community builder alongside longtime area residents, businesses, and leaders. ArtWorks is investing in its permanent home here. We are committed to being a resource and bringing our mission to invest directly in Walnut Hills residents, building authentic reciprocity. Our staff members serve on neighborhood committees for safety, business, and cultural initiatives. Our building renovation and construction of the art park across the street are the most significant investments in the organization’s history — providing studio spaces to employ artists year-round, gallery and community event space, meeting rooms, offices, greenspace, parking, and public art.

Now in its 27th year, ArtWorks is an award-winning Greater Cincinnati nonprofit that has pioneered public art and economic impact throughout the region to create community-based public art that provides career opportunities for artists of all ages. ArtWorks works alongside community leaders to build civic pride with art that beautifies the region, creating jobs for more than 300 artists annually, with an emphasis on supporting young artists ages 14-24, to earn a living wage. The economic empowerment and mentorship that ArtWorks provides leads to upward mobility, which is critically important for young people who come from a majority of under-resourced and underemployed neighborhoods and households.

This collaborative approach has created a citywide gallery that has helped build a nationwide audience and recognition, putting Cincinnati on the map for its public art.

Now headquartered in Walnut Hills, ArtWorks is part of pioneering the burgeoning arts district in Cincinnati’s historic second downtown. Learn more at

Recent Growth

The need to invest in diverse emerging talent in our region through the power of art has never felt more urgent. To that end, we are expanding the age range for teen and young artist employment to focus on 14–24-year-olds. By increasing the age, we are able to serve many post-high school youth who are challenged to find meaningful career exploration opportunities. As demand for public art and creative services increases, ArtWorks has grown our staffing/mission model by expanding workforce development in the arts from a seasonal summer model to providing year-round arts employment. This means year-round staff has grown from 15 to 55 since 2020, including 250+ seasonal artistic employees, with plans for future growth.

In late 2024/early 2025, ArtWorks will open its new creative campus in the urban neighborhood of Walnut Hills just north of downtown Cincinnati, expanding its capacity to impact art, youth, and creative projects across the region. ArtWorks is moving into its first permanent headquarters so that its doors can be open to provide a safe space for young artists year-round. This capital investment supports the growth and sustainability of ArtWorks, to launch meaningful year-round workforce opportunities to develop and support robust arts employment across the regional community. At the core is a historic preservation project transforming a former paint warehouse into an arts hub and redeveloping a vacant lot across the street, a significant reinvestment in the Walnut Hills business corridor towards building a burgeoning arts district.


Our Goals for this Project

 Phase 1

  1. Conduct research and develop strategy to inform overall brand position and new name.
  2. Recommend a new name that is memorable, unique and true to brand as well as creating a compelling connection with core audiences.
  3. This name will build on and update the organization’s positive ArtWorks is interested in having Inclusive language guidelines and standards for external communications. As new brand guidelines and activation of brand are considered, ArtWorks strives to have inclusive language and interface experiences across all platforms, brand reputation and expand understanding and awareness of our mission.
  4. Minimize confusion by making it clear to our constituents how different we are from other organizations.
  5. Elevate distinct business advantages and assets for marketing to core audience.
  6. Create a creative and smart communications and storytelling plan to convey essential impact of our work. Provide a clear elevator pitch and talking points for all stakeholders around the new name.

Phase 2

  1. Create a dynamic visual identity system and brand to bring the organization’s new name and identity to life. This will include brand guidelines and toolkit as well as other components described below.
  2. Build a comprehensive plan to launch and establish new brand.
  3. ArtWorks wants to ensure the use of inclusive language and requests inclusive guidelines and standards for external communications.


Please exclude trademark research and filing fees as a part of your proposal as we have a legal partner who will support this work.


Conduct Research:

Interviews: Plan to conduct interviews with key stakeholders within the organization, including board members, staff, volunteers, and long-term supporters. These interviews should aim to understand their perspectives on the current brand, its strengths, weaknesses, and their vision for the future.

Focus Groups: Organize focus groups with diverse representatives from the target audience or community the nonprofit serves. These focus groups will help gather insights into the perceptions and expectations of the current brand and what the community wants from the organization.

Surveys: Design and distribute surveys to a wider audience, including current and potential donors, beneficiaries, and community members. The survey can include questions about brand recognition, satisfaction, and suggestions for improvement.

Document Review: Review published communications and internal documents including press, books, annual reports, social media, strategic plan, DEIAB plan, to build understanding of ArtWorks’ current brand, position and voice.

Competitive Analysis, Part 1: Conduct a thorough review of ArtWorks core public services and business to inform key strategies for future marketing needs.

Competitive Analysis, Part 2: Conduct analysis of other nonprofits working in the same space or those with similar missions. Identify their brand strategies, values, personalities, and positioning to gain insights into how to differentiate ArtWorks in the market.

Innovative field – Discover new and contemporary trends or exciting creative implementations of brands for inspiration.

Provide Key Insights Based on Research: Compile and analyze the data collected from the research efforts to extract key insights and patterns. These insights should shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of the current brand, the expectations and desires of the target audience, and opportunities for differentiation in the sector. Present on innovations and trends. Public Engagement Strategies

ArtWorks is committed to public engagement and community building across all projects. Consider options to bring these values into this research phase and propose what might be possible.

Develop Brand Strategy:

Values: Clearly define the core values that the new brand should embody. These values should reflect the nonprofit’s mission and resonate with the target audience. Articulate how these values will be integrated into the organization’s culture and operations.

Brand Experience: Describe the desired brand experience for stakeholders interacting with the nonprofit. This includes both online and offline touchpoints, ensuring consistency and a strong emotional connection with the audience.

Personality: Define the personality traits that the new brand should exhibit. For example, is it compassionate, innovative, trustworthy, or empowering? Elaborate on how this personality will be conveyed in communications and interactions.

Positioning: Clearly articulate the unique value proposition of the nonprofit compared to its competitors. Explain how the new brand positioning will resonate with the target audience and help the organization stand out in the market.

Provide New Brand Names: Generate potential brand names for feedback and help to identify best names that align with ArtWorks mission, values, and personality. Ensure the names are memorable, easy to pronounce, and unique in marketplace. Offer a brief rationale for each name suggestion, highlighting its relevance to the nonprofit’s goals and target audience. Conduct preliminary search to ensure name is not already widely in use.


Develop a full visual identity system and brand toolkit consisting of logo, tagline, brand guidelines, color systems, animations, symbols, website wireframe, mock-ups for signage and collateral, etc. A strong brand may include a visual icon that stands alone or within a larger design.

Develop plans and budgets for creative and successful brand activation and implementation to help launch new name and brand to build awareness across core audiences. As new brand guidelines and activation of brand are considered, ArtWorks is prioritizing inclusive language and interface experiences across all platforms.


The following is the approximate timeline and process for agency solicitation, evaluation and selection. ArtWorks reserves the right to alter this timeline and will provide participating agencies with notification of such adjustments.


  • RFP distributed:                                August 14, 2023
  • Agency questions deadline (via email only): August 25, 2023
  • RFP submission deadline:           September 8, 2023
  • Agencies notified of selection to move
    forward with presentations:           September 18, 2023
  • Agency presentations (at agency expense): Week of September 25–29, 2023
  • Final selection and agency notified: No later than October 13, 2023
  • Contract development: Week of October 16–20, 2023
  • Agency start date:           November 1, 2023
  • Phase 1 Implementation: From Start–January 31, 2024
  • Final deliverables due to ArtWorks: February 1, 2024, at the latest
  • It will take approximately 7 months for legal review and to trademark name.
  • Phase 2 brand design and
    implementation of plan: Summer 2024
  • Phase 2 production (Build all tools: visual identity system, website design recommendations, signage, collateral, etc):  Fall 2024
  • Signage and material debut – Grand opening of new building/Early 2025



Please include the following sections and items within your proposal, with clarity and brevity in mind.

Proposal Interest

Please indicate which Phase you are interested in (Phase 1, Phase 2 or Both) and have all fees separated.

Agency Criteria

If you are submitting as a team from various entities formed just for this program, please provide this information for each agency or individual represented.

Provide an agency overview.

  • What is unique about your firm – what are your core competencies, core values and what sets you apart from the rest?
  • Have you purposefully engaged residents or community members as sub-clients?
  • How have you connected to and supported racial equity-driven work in the past?
  • List any awards/accolades and special certifications.
  • Provide references from at least three (3) clients you have worked with in the past 12 months.
  • How would your work directly support ArtWorks’ mission?
  • How will the new name convey ArtWorks’ mission and impact?

 Tell us about your talent.

  • Describe your team’s structure and how team will be organized by role. Additionally what resources you would dedicate to this project to be successful?
  • Identify your main point of contact.
  • List the experience of the key agency staff (full-time only) expected to be involved in servicing the account or provide CVs. In addition, include other accounts they currently serve or have in the past.
  • Are you a business owned and/or operated by BIPOC or Female/Nonbinary leadership?
  • Explain how staff turnover is handled and what role clients play in the process regarding replacements. How are new account team members brought up to speed on the account?

Let us see your portfolio.

  • Please provide samples of relevant projects you’ve developed and give us a little background about each. Links may be included.

Tell us how you work.

  • Proposed Fees, Timing, & Terms & Conditions. Tell us your budget range for this proposed project. Why do you think you are the team that should be selected to work on this project?
  • Describe how you manage your timeline for implementation and identify milestones in the project.
  • Share your proposed process, strategy and overall capabilities.


  1. All proposals should be submitted in PDF format via email to by 5:00 p.m. EST on September 8, 2023.
  2. Any questions related to the RFP must be sent to and received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on August 25, 2023. Questions will be addressed as quickly as possible in the order received.
  3. Notifications will be made by September 18, 2023 to let agencies know whether to move forward in the selection process with presentations.
  4. Agencies that are selected for presentations will have the opportunity to submit questions prior to presenting and in person during Q&A portion of the presentation. The presentations do not require suggested names and/or branding, rather they are intended to better understand the agency’s proposed process, strategy, and overall capabilities.

Submitting agencies signify understanding and agreement with these terms by responding to the RFP and will adhere to the following terms:

  • Do not contact any ArtWorks Board Member, staff member, or members of the committee. All inquiries must be sent to
  • All ideas and concepts shared with ArtWorks in this RFP process are submitted in a non-proprietary manner.
  • ArtWorks reserves the right to change any part of this RFP, the process and/or altogether cancel at any point and for any reason without any liability to submitting parties.
  • Agencies understand that any information provided in a proposal that is found to be untruthful or otherwise a misrepresentation will automatically disqualify the submitting agency. In addition, should untruths or misrepresentation be found with the selected agency after contracting, such would be grounds for immediate termination of the contract without any liability from ArtWorks.
  • All information (written or spoken) shared by ArtWorks is deemed confidential and shall not be shared with outside parties.


The selection committee will identify a group or agency with the experience and knowledge necessary to develop the plan. Proposals will be evaluated on creativity, a demonstrated understanding of the project’s scope and goals, including understanding ArtWorks’ mission, ability to work within the budgeted guidelines, and results based on work produced for other clients.


The agency’s primary points of contact will be identified during the interviewing process.


  1. ArtWorks media clips/news/articles
  2. UC/ArtsWave research
  3. ArtWorks 2020 Annual Report
  4. ArtWorks 2021 Annual Report
  5. ArtWorks’ DEIAB plan