Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Arts Program works to showcase the potential of artists to act as civic leaders, drawing attention to and encouraging dialogue around pressing problems. The Public Art Challenge, founded to further this work, supports temporary public art projects that engage communities and enrich the quality of life in cities.

The program, launched in 2014, engages mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to collaborate with artists and arts organizations to develop temporary public art projects that address civic issues.

In 2015, we announced the first round of winning teams – Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York (a collaborative project). Their projects, which all opened in 2016 and catalyzed $13 million for local economies, spurred civic leaders and residents, as well as local nonprofits and businesses, to work together to advance solutions to critical urban challenges such as abandoned properties, environmental sustainability, community-police relations, and creative sector economic development.

In 2018, the second round of this challenge was announced, and selected Anchorage, Alaska, Camden, New Jersey, Coral Springs, Florida, Jackson, Mississippi, and Tulsa, Oklahoma as winners. The projects resulted in $100 million in total economic benefit for five local economies, had 18.4 million in-person views of the public art projects, included 1,000 creative professionals and volunteers, created 226 project partnerships between city governments and nonprofits with community organizations, universities, and local businesses, and featured 128 artist commissions for 142 installations including sculptures, murals, films, photography, performances, and events.

Applications for the third Public Art Challenge for U.S. cities opened in 2022, with eight cities selected as winners in the fall of 2023 to execute their projects over 24 months: Atlanta, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, Honolulu, Hawaii, Houston, Texas, Orlando, Florida, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah.

See more in videos from our past Public Art Challenge winners.


“The Public Art Challenge brings people together to look at issues from new perspectives and uncover new solutions. The winning projects from the first competition all made a real and lasting impact in their cities.”

-Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term mayor of New York City