Bloomberg Philanthropies

This Contest Will Put Millions Into Ambitious Public Art

By Ben Paynter, Fast Company

After a rousing success in creating public displays that help citizens focus on important issues, Bloomberg Philanthropy’s Public Art Challenge is looking for more cities with big artistic ideas.

Several years ago, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched a competition to award struggling cities $1 million each for trying a novel approach at revitalization. It was called the Public Art Challenge, with the goal being that each place should think up some big, unifying, and life-improving masterpiece.

That effort has paid off beautifully. According to Bloomberg’s math, the four winning projects based in Los Angeles; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and a triumvirate of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy in New York generated $13 million for those four places, both in terms of new jobs, related neighborhood investments, and visitor spending. More than 10 million people are estimated to have viewed those works, which not so subtly encouraged water conservation, culinary job training, better-lit public spaces, and improvement to blighted buildings, respectively.

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