In October 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited U.S. mayors to collaborate with artists and arts organizations on developing innovative public art projects that engage residents and attract visitors. After receiving 237 applications that covered a wide range of local and civic issues, Bloomberg Philanthropies selected four winning projects to receive up to $1 million each as part of the Public Art Challenge – a new program aimed at supporting temporary public art projects that celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnerships, and drive economic development. The four selected cities are: Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, NY, which proposed a collaborative project; Gary, IN; Los Angeles, CA; and Spartanburg, SC.
Learn more about how each project intends to use public art to transform their city:
- Albany, Schenectady and Troy, NY – Breathing Lights
Through a collaborative effort, the cities of Albany, Schenectady and Troy, plan to illuminate up to 300 vacant homes over several months. Working with lead artist Adam Frelin, lead architect Barbara Nelson, and more than 25 community and private sector partners, including the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, this multi-site installation aims to regenerate interest in once-vibrant neighborhoods that currently have high vacancy rates. This consortium will culminate the project with a regional summit on vacant homes and abandoned buildings to engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policymakers.
- Gary, IN – ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen
The City of Gary will transform an underutilized downtown building into a cultural hub that showcases visual and culinary arts. ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen is a partnership with artist Theaster Gates and the City to create a civic center that features three commissioned works of visual art, offers culinary training, and provides cultural programming that uses food as a medium for community engagement. The City will use this public space as a catalyst to develop a cultural district and promote urban revitalization.
- Los Angeles, CA – CURRENT: LA Water
The City of Los Angeles will commission up to 15 multidisciplinary artworks and public programs that focus on the city’s environmental concerns and engage residents for its inaugural Public Art Biennial. These installations will include locations alongside the Los Angeles River as well as other sites throughout Los Angeles, increasing awareness of the city’s need for water conservation.
- Spartanburg, SC – Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light
The City of Spartanburg is planning temporary art installations on city-owned public spaces in five targeted neighborhoods. The project builds on National Night Out, an annual event that promotes crime prevention efforts, police-community partnership and neighborhood camaraderie. Artist Erwin Redl is collaborating with the city’s police and fire departments, and neighborhood associations selected through a competitive process, to design and develop LED light installations that transform open spaces and create safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.
We congratulate the winning cities, and look forward to partnering with them as each project takes shape over the next 24 months. Please join us in watching as the projects develop at publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org.