Public funding for the arts has rarely been stable in recent years, and private philanthropy is often locally focused. But not always.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, announced that it has chosen cities across the United States to receive grants of up to $1 million to support public art projects. The funds will go to four projects, in Los Angeles; Gary, Ind.; Spartanburg, S.C.; and a joint proposal from three New York cities — Albany, Schenectady and Troy.
The cities were chosen as part of the organization’s Public Art Challenge, announced last fall, which aims to encourage works that expand public-private partnerships and encourage economic development.
“Great public art strengthens cities by making them more exciting and attractive places to live, work, and visit,” Mr. Bloomberg said in a news release. “Public art can also help us to see urban challenges in a new light – and imagine new solutions.”
The artist Theaster Gates will lead the project in Gary, titled “ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen,” which involves transforming a vacant building into a cultural center with the intent to spark further cultural development. The Los Angeles project, “Current: L.A. River,” will include commissions for artworks and public programs focused on environmental concerns, as part of the city’s first Public Art Biennial. The project “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” will place temporary installations in that city’s public spaces as part of a crime-prevention effort. The cities in New York will work with the artist Adam Frelin and the architect Barbara Nelson to illuminate vacant homes, in an effort to revive neighborhoods in decline, in a project called “Breathing Lights.”
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