New York, NY – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced 17 U.S. cities are finalists to receive grants of up to $1 million each as part of the Public Art Challenge, a program launched in 2014 to support temporary public art projects that address an urgent civic issue. More than 150 cities from 40 U.S. states applied, and the most frequently cited issues they would tackle include urban revitalization, environmental sustainability, and equity. Proposals also included addressing unsheltered communities, gun safety, and public health. Projects included a wide range of creative expression such as sculptures, murals, performances, digital projects, light installations, and festivals. Bloomberg Philanthropies will select up to 10 winners from among these 17 finalists in fall 2023 to execute their projects within the next two years.
“Public art provides a creative way to bring communities together, strengthen local economies, and make cities more inspiring and dynamic,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “This year’s proposals show that public art, and the partnerships they forge between artists and local governments, is stronger than ever.”
In November 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for projects that celebrate creativity, catalyze public-private collaborations, and strengthen local economies. Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected the following 17 cities from across the nation to advance to the next round of the Public Art Challenge by submitting more detailed plans for their projects.
Alameda, CA – Climate: The City of Alameda proposes “Rising Tides” to increase awareness of climate change and sustainable economic development by commissioning a series of visual and performing art works on a former Naval Air Station in an area vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Atlanta, GA – Public Health: The City of Atlanta proposes “Thriving Together,” which will address healthcare inequities via large-scale installations, a mobile art gallery, and a festival across 50 locations including hospitals, universities, and theaters, produced in partnership with the CDC Foundation, Out of Hand Theater and the National Black Arts Festival.
Austin, TX – Climate: The City of Austin proposes “The Way of Water,” a project utilizing multiple sites along the Colorado River in downtown Austin for performances and installations which will raise awareness of climate responses, specifically preparing for floods.
Baltimore, MD – Revitalization: The City of Baltimore proposes “Inviting Light,” a Derrick Adams-led project to revitalize Station North, the City’s Arts District, with light installations and programming at five sites.
Columbus, OH – Equity: The City of Columbus proposes “Greenlined,” which includes programming to spark discourse about land use policy in areas that have been devalued by historic redlining – a discriminatory practice by lenders to deny homebuyers from communities of color loans; and how discriminatory land development practices have influenced the region’s current housing shortage.
Honolulu, HI – Equity: The City and County of Honolulu proposes “Wahi Pana” (Storied Places) with over a dozen installations in key tourist destinations to create meaningful engagement with Indigenous history of O‘ahu.
Houston, TX – Homelessness: The City of Houston, proposes HueMan: Shelter, a public art effort designed to intentionally disrupt perceptions of homelessness by employing artists and unsheltered individuals to work together to create visual stories from their lived experiences. The project includes the activation of nine sites for public artworks along a main street corridor in Midtown, Houston.
Miami, FL – Climate: The City of Miami proposes “1,000,000 Butterflies,” a digital mural on The Underline, an urban trail beneath Miami’s Metrorail, to prompt climate change action; and the development of gardens throughout the city to increase green spaces.
Minneapolis, MN – Equity: The City of Minneapolis proposes “Minneapolis Reckoning,” with installations in vacant areas in seven cultural districts to address institutionalized racism towards the Black community as part of the City’s ongoing efforts to address the murder of George Floyd.
Nashville, TN – Equity: The City of Nashville proposes “Re-Weaving Juvenile Justice,” with community-built installations and poetry to generate discussions of restorative justice for Nashville’s youth.
New Orleans, LA – Public Safety: The City of New Orleans proposes “Feathers of Hope,” a series of festivals featuring light sculptures, digital art, and illuminated suits from the Mardi Gras masking culture to promote public safety.
Orlando, FL – Food insecurity: The City of Orlando proposes “Art Pollination,” a project that will engage artists and farmers to develop art installations in urban landscapes that will raise awareness about food insecurity and the lack of access to healthy food.
Philadelphia, PA – Gun violence: The City of Philadelphia proposes “Healing Verse Germantown,” a community driven project to address gun violence that will culminate in public art installations based on poems written in community workshops.
Phoenix, AZ – Climate: The City of Phoenix proposes “¡Sombra!,” (Shade) which will commission 12 artists to create shading and cooling installations in response to global warming. Projects will be located throughout various parks and neighborhoods identified through heat mapping.
Raleigh, NC – Equity: The City of Raleigh proposes “Our Art, Our Voice, Our Future,” a series of three installations and community-led symposiums to address the loss of Black cultural identity and history in Southeast Raleigh.
Salt Lake City, UT – Climate: The City of Salt Lake City proposes “Wake the Great Salt Lake” to inspire action on climate change with visual art installations in each of the seven city council districts to address the persistent drought crisis affecting the Great Salt Lake.
San Diego, CA – Equity: The City of San Diego proposes “To Draw a Circle on the Earth,” which will create a ceremonial ground functioning as a platform for Indigenous arts, cultural programming by the Kumeyaay people and other Indigenous communities.
“This year’s Public Art Challenge applications showcased a commitment to embracing the creative sector as a means to develop solutions to a range of complex urban issues,” said Kate D. Levin, who leads the Arts Program at Bloomberg Philanthropies. “These finalists all proposed especially compelling creative ideas, along with robust community partnerships, and we are looking forward to learning more about their plans.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support for the winning Public Art Challenge cities will be part of a committed, catalytic consortium of funders. The Bloomberg Philanthropies grants will cover project-related expenditures including development, execution, and marketing, but will not fund 100 percent of the total project costs.
The second round of Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, awarded to five cities in 2018, catalyzed more than $100 million in economic benefit for local economies and illuminated civic issues including climate change, neighborhood blight, healing after gun violence, and commemorating the centennial of Greenwood’s 1921 Black Wall Street Massacre. Cities in the 2018 Public Art Challenge were able to spark local investment, stimulate new forms of partnership, improve community wellbeing, and create inclusive spaces to discuss complex social issues. The first round of Public Art Challenge winners in 2015 included Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York (a collaborative project). Their public art projects opened in 2016, drawing more than 10 million visitors. The projects spurred civic leaders and residents, as well as local nonprofits and businesses, to work together to advance solutions to critical urban challenges such as abandoned properties, environmental sustainability, community-police relations, and creative-sector economic development.
Photos and Videos for Press Use:
Photos and videos from the previous Public Art Challenge are available for use here. All the images provided are free to use and downloadable, credit Bloomberg Philanthropies.
About Bloomberg Philanthropies:
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed US$ 1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Rebecca Carriero, Bloomberg Philanthropies, firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 (212)-205-0182