Opening Night Call for Artists - 2021 Awards in the Arts

Fund for the Arts announces a call for artists for its fifth annual celebration of the Churchill Downs 2021 Opening Night on Saturday, April 24th. This Opening Night celebration is the kick-off to Derby Week and features artists “at every turn”.  Over the past year, the arts have helped to comfort and connect us through the COVID-19 pandemic, and educate and challenge us to greater racial equity. The community has been tasked with analyzing, deconstructing, and reinventing our city’s values and exposing the resilience that makes Louisville, Louisville. This year the theme is healing and resilience, represented by the color orange and the use of light. Live performances by selected artists are featured throughout the Churchill Downs Racetrack and can be highlighted on the Churchill Downs Big Board. The deadline to submit proposals is Monday, March 8th through the Fund for the Arts Website.

“We’re excited to continue the tradition of bringing art to the track on Opening Night of Churchill Downs,” said Christen Boone, President & CEO of Fund for the Arts. “After a year of social distancing and racial reckoning, this event will feature a diverse, inspiring set of artists to help us to reconnect as a community, kick-off Derby Week and promote Greater Louisville’s vibrant arts and culture sector.”

Churchill Downs’ health and safety guidelines:

  • Artist Groups are limited to a maximum of 5 participants.
  • Artists are required to wear a mask covering their nose & mouth at all times, whether inside or outside the facility, except when actively singing, playing a wind instrument, eating, or drinking.
  • Artists and Artist groups will be provided individual hand sanitizer bottles and face masks as needed.
  • Artists are advised to practice appropriate social distancing from other guests & to comply with all signage and floor decals indicating proper distancing.
  • Compliance with Churchill Downs’ public safety measures is a condition of admittance and will be strictly enforced. Offenders will receive a warning; repeat offenders will be escorted from the property.

More information on Churchill Downs guidelines can be found here.

Submission Specifications

Event Details

In addition to horse racing throughout the evening, live art performances and installations will be stationed around the racetrack. Over the past few years, this event has adopted an “Orange” theme, a color that symbolizes creativity, enthusiasm, and encouragement. Proposals are encouraged to incorporate light to symbolize the re-emergence of our community as a beacon of hope. This year’s celebration will also incorporate a theme of healing and rebuilding, which is the focus of the Fund for the Arts’ Annual Campaign in 2021. The goal of this event is to entertain patrons with uplifting and interactive performances. Proposals should include details of how these themes will be incorporated into the performance/installation.

Proposal Requirements 

  • 1-2 paragraph description of proposed performance or installation, including the incorporation of the 2021 Opening Night themes.
  • Samples of past work or proposed work, including hodographs, drawings, and links are welcome.
  • Detailed budget, including time, materials, rentals, transportation, etc.

Submission Details

Submit proposals at the link below.

  • The deadline for proposals is Monday, March 8th and selected proposals will be notified by March 19th
  • For questions, please contact Portia White at

About Fund for the Arts

Fund for the Arts is a regional nonprofit with the mission to maximize the impact of the arts on economic development, education, and quality of life in our community. The Fund is a convener, promoter, leader, and driver of Imagine Greater Louisville, the region’s arts and cultural plan. It facilitates the largest arts grant program in Kentucky as well as conducts one of the oldest united arts campaigns in the country. For more information, visit

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