Bloomberg Philanthropies

2022 Public Art Challenge Launched for U.S. Cities

Up to 10 U.S. cities will be selected in third Public Art Challenge to receive as much as $1 million each to create temporary projects that foster creative collaboration, address civic issues, and enhance their vibrancy 

The Public Art Challenge has catalyzed more than $100 million for local economies

New York, NY  Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced the launch of the 2022 Public Art Challenge, which invites mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to apply for up to $1 million in funding to create temporary public art projects that address important civic issues. Submissions for dynamic works of art across all disciplines will be considered, and proposed projects will be evaluated on their ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies. The Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge encourages mayors to partner with artists, elevating the value of including the creative sector when developing solutions to significant urban problems.  

“The Public Art Challenge provides a creative way for cities to bring residents together, form strong civic partnerships, and make public spaces more inspiring and accessible,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “As cities emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, public art has the power to help revitalize communities. We know cities will have great ideas for this year’s competition, and we look forward to helping their visions come to life.”

Up to 10 winners will be chosen in 2023 to execute their projects – which may include multiple installations in a single city – over 24 months. Bloomberg Philanthropies grants will cover project-related expenditures including development, execution, and marketing. The application for the 2022 Public Art Challenge, as well as more information on criteria, and process, can be found here. The deadline to apply is February 15, 2023.

The second round of Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge cities selected in 2018 included projects by Anchorage, Alaska; Camden, New Jersey; Coral Springs and Parkland, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The five winning projects addressed issues such as climate change, neighborhood blight, healing after gun violence, and commemorating the centennial of Greenwood’s 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre. Many of the cities in the 2018 Public Art Challenge were able to catalyze local investment, stimulate new forms of partnership within their cities, improve community wellbeing, and create inclusive spaces to discuss complex social issues. 

The 2018 Public Art Challenge catalyzed: 

  • $100 million in total economic benefit for five local economies
  • 18.4 million in-person views of the public art projects
  • 1,000 creative professionals and volunteers participated
  • 226 project partnerships forged by city governments and nonprofits with community organizations, universities, and local businesses
  • 128 artist commissions for 142 installations including sculptures, murals, films, photography, performances, and events

 

The 2018 Public Art Challenge projects included: 
Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: The Power of Art, Coral Springs and Parkland, Florida’s public art project, in partnership with the Coral Springs Museum of Art, was created to help their communities heal following the tragic mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The project was a curated series of five large-scale temporary public art installations built with community members, drawing from the museum’s Healing with Art therapy program. The first of five installations, the Temple of Time, was a 35-foot temporary public art installation constructed by world-renowned artist David Best, along with 1,000 members of the community. Upon conclusion of the project, 90% of participants surveyed indicated that the experience had contributed to their healing journey, and 78% learned about mental health resources.

“When it opened on the one-year anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy, the Temple of Time served as a place where police officers, firefighters, politicians, and the community joined hands to remember how the violence that shook our community did not break our community,” said Coral Springs Mayor Scott Brook. Click here to watch a powerful video about the ceremonial temple burn with comments from artist David Best, former Parkland Mayor Christine Hunschofsky, and local police officers.

Camden, New Jersey’s Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge winning project, A New View, worked to transform illegal dumping sites into venues for public art alongside major transportation hubs. The goal was to increase civic pride and improve perception of the city to the 65,000 people traveling through Camden daily. As a result of the project, new legislation has been passed to address illegal dumping.

“Illegal dumping costs this city upwards of four million dollars a year,” said former Camden Mayor Frank Moran. “That’s a lot of money that could be going to park maintenance, but we have to pay that to the landfills. I’ve been nothing but grateful to everyone for helping us move this city forward.” Click here for a video about the Camden sculptures and interviews with the artists and others involved in the project. 

As a winner of our Public Art Challenge, the City of Jackson, Mississippi, and Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba launched Fertile Ground: Inspiring Dialogue About Food Access, a series of public art installations which address the inequities of food access in Jackson.  An interdisciplinary team of artists, landscape architects, filmmakers, farmers, gardeners, chefs, nutritionists, and community members united to create a city-wide exhibition, highlighting the need for healthier food throughout Mississippi. The project energized citizens and policymakers to address barriers to urban food access and inspired the commissioning of another three learning gardens across the state to promote healthy eating to school children. Watch this video on The Fertile Ground project. 

“This [project] is helping Jackson build a vision for a new economy, based on sustainable development goals, quality of education, equity of infrastructure, and providing fresh fruits and vegetables to people,” said Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba. “I’m proud that Jackson is providing leadership to Mississippi, and to the world, with this art project.”

The Greenwood Art Project was launched by the City of Tulsa in partnership with the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission and artist Rick Lowe. The Greenwood Art Project included 32 local artists and raised awareness of the Black Wall Street Massacre and the destruction of its thriving Black community in the historic Greenwood District, one of the most prominent Black-owned business districts in the United States during the early 1900s. After quickly rebuilding, Greenwood was further decimated by urban renewal acts in the 1950s – 1960s. The Greenwood Art Project commemorated the massacre’s centennial, celebrated the community’s resilience, and contributed to a new phase of positive redevelopment for the current Greenwood community. Artists were commissioned and featured in the new BMX national headquarters in Greenwood, several new businesses opened in the Greenwood neighborhood, and the highway that cuts through the heart of Greenwood was redeveloped into a walkable destination called the Pathway for Hope. See a video about the project. 

“In Tulsa, the racial and economic disparities that still exist today can be traced to the 1921 Race Massacre,” said Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum. “The city as a whole suffers when economic inequality touches any neighborhood. The Greenwood Art Project will help encourage connections and engage citizens to understand the dangers of hatred, the power of resilience and the importance of reconciliation.”

Anchorage, Alaska’s project, SEED Lab, transformed a vacant building into an incubator and convening space for artists, designers, and community members to create projects addressing climate change, immigration, and indigenous issues. As part of economic recovery efforts, artists installed murals on the facades of vacant buildings and restaurants to enliven and enrich a desolate downtown district during COVID.  The community gained a deeper understanding of how art can educate and inform with 76% of participants reporting that SEED Lab’s activities made them think differently about civic issues.

The 2015 Public Art Challenge projects:
The winning cities of Bloomberg Philanthropies first Public Art Challenge — Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York (a collaborative project) — were announced in 2015. These projects opened in 2016 and 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. 

Photos and Videos for Press Use:
Photos and videos from the previous Public Art Challenge are available for use here. All the images provided are free to use and downloadable, credit Bloomberg Philanthropies. 

About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 941 cities and 173 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.66 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubeTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Carriero, Bloomberg Philanthropies, rebeccac@bloomberg.org or +1 (212)-205-0182 

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