Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest

The Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest program began in 2019 in partnership with Cambridge Arts and aims to energize neighborhoods and support local artists by filling empty storefront windows with reproductions of local artwork.

Each year, the Contest invites local artists to submit their original designs. A jury reviews the submissions and selects finalists. Following finalist announcements, the Cambridge community votes for their favorite designs to determine six (6) winners. Cambridge property owners can choose a design from the six winners to print and display in their vacant storefronts. 2023 winners will be available for download and installation in spring 2023.

2023 Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest Guidelines

The Cambridge Community Development Department (CDD) seeks submissions of original artwork, photography, or designs that can be reproduced and used for temporary window displays in vacant ground-floor storefronts. Our goal is to partner with artists and creatives to activate vacant ground-floor storefronts to produce a variety of artworks to print and install by Cambridge property owners. Cambridge artists, designers, youth, and others are encouraged to apply. There is no entry fee.  

A one-time honorarium of $1,000 will be provided to each of the six (6) winners. The final artwork will need to be formatted into a digital, high-resolution PDF file, adaptable to a variety of window sizes with ability to print on both paper and vinyl.  

Click here to vote for the 2023 Finalists.

Contest Rules

  • Applicants must submit their design by Wednesday March 22, 2023, at 12 p.m. online here: Vacant Storefront Design Contest Submission Form  
  • Your submission must be your own original concept and not a copy of anyone else’s copyrighted material. If your submission infringes upon another’s copyright, it will be disqualified.  
  • Any submissions with offensive language will be disqualified.  
  • If your design is chosen as a finalist or winner, you grant the City of Cambridge and local property owners a non-exclusive license to reproduce images of your work in vacant storefronts in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a period of 2 years, with an option to renew. You also grant the City of Cambridge permission to reproduce your work in promotions (web and print materials) and documentation of the Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest.   
  • Applicants must be from the Greater Boston area (i.e., your studio or residence must be in or around Cambridge). 
  • Applicants may submit up to  three (3) entries. Entries uploaded after the first three (3) files are submitted will not be considered.  
  • City of Cambridge employees, including Cambridge Public Schools and Cambridge Public Health Department employees, are not eligible to enter.  
  • Previous Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest winners are not eligible to enter.   

The Finalists Selection Process

  • A jury will select no more than fifteen (15) finalists based on criteria developed to review the Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest submissions.
  • The public will choose the six (6) winners through a “People’s Choice” vote. The “People Choice” vote will be conducted online, through social media and website promotion, and in person by visiting the Cambridge City Hall Annex at 344 Broadway.
  • Each of the six (6) winners will receive an honorarium of $1,000 for their design.
  • After winners are chosen, their designs will be uploaded to the City of Cambridge’s website and will be available for reproduction and installation in ground-floor retail vacancies throughout Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Contest Timeline (UPDATED)

  • February 1 - March 1, 2023- Contest open for submissions
  • March 20, 2023 at 12 p.m. - Deadline for contest submissions
  • March 21 – April 14, 2023 - Jury chooses finalists
  • April 14 - April 28, 2023 - People’s Choice Poll is open
  • May 5, 2023 - Winners are announced and receive their honorarium
  • May 6 onward - City promotes digital files to property owners and commercial real estate leasing agents for temporary art installations in vacant storefront windows

Property owners will be able to select work from the Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest Winners. Request a Design for Your Vacant Storefront.

Click here for a gallery of the 2023 Vacant Storefront Creative Design Contest Semi-Finalists. 

For More Information

Contact Allyson Allen, Senior Economic Development Manager, at or 617-349-9122.