Former New York City mayor, political donor and philanthropist Michael Bloomberg was in Anchorage Wednesday, announcing the city is receiving up to one million dollars for a public art project focused on climate change.
Bloomberg spoke to local luminaries, museum staff and city employees in a gallery of the Anchorage Museum, surrounded by contemporary Alaska art and Sydney Lawrence’s iconic “Mount McKinley” painting. The philanthropy program invests in cities that aim to use public art to spur economic development and promote civic dialogue. This year, according to Bloomberg, there were around 200 applicants for the grant.
“Today I’m glad to announce our first winner. And as you may have guessed, Anchorage has won the public art challenge, congratulations,” Bloomberg said to applause from the crowd.
The money will go toward setting up what the city calls the Solutions for Energy and Equity Through Design Lab, or SEED Lab. It will be housed in an empty building downtown near the museum, which will act as a landlord and partner with the city. The idea is to create something between a think-tank and public art space to design projects focused on climate change solutions, according to Museum Director Julie Decker.
Bloomberg sees public art as a catalyst for facilitating urban improvement, something he witnessed during his tenure in New York City.
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