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Bloomberg Philanthropies Awards 5 Cities Up to $1 Million in Funding for Public Art Projects that Address Civic Issues

Bloomberg Philanthropies selected five cities to receive up to $1 million each as part of the second Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a program that aims to foster creative collaboration, address civic issues, and support local economies through public art. More than 200 cities submitted proposals addressing a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, and cultural identity. Many proposals also address issues like displacement, immigration, natural disaster recovery, and public health. Additionally, the proposals reflect a diverse use of artistic mediums including augmented reality, light installations, murals, and performances.

“This year’s proposals focus on critical issues facing our country in exciting and creative ways,” said Mike Bloomberg. “The Public Art Challenge helps to highlight the role that public art plays in provoking conversation, supporting collaboration, and building strong communities.”

Anchorage, AK – Addressing Energy Policy and Economic Development: “SEED Community”
The City of Anchorage proposes a partnership with the Anchorage Museum to address climate change. The partnership creates “SEED Lab,” a center bringing together artists, designers, engineers, and community members to embed energy efficient solutions into city planning. The partnership will turn a neglected downtown building in the city’s nascent design district into a vibrant and vital civic center. The center will have open in May 2019.

Camden, NJ – Transforming Illegal Dumping Lots into Arts Spaces: “A New View”
The City of Camden proposes transforming lots currently used for illegal dumping along major transportation highways into spaces with arts programming. Spaces located along the city’s downtown transit hub will be converted into multi-purpose community forums to host art installations and provide a visual narrative to the more than 65,000 people who travel through Camden daily. Community activities will begin summer 2019.

Coral Springs, FL – Inspiring Community Healing After Gun Violence: “The Power of Art”
The City of Coral Springs in partnership with the City of Parkland proposes developing five temporary installations to bring the community together in collective healing and reflection following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February of 2018. The artworks will serve as the community’s vision of change and hope for the future. The project will draw on and support Coral Springs Museum of Art’s “Healing with Art,” an art therapy program which began as an immediate response to the shooting. The first of five installations opened on February 14, 2019 and the four other installations will open through 2020.

Jackson, MS – Inspiring Dialogue about Food Access: “Fertile Ground”
The City of Jackson proposes a city-wide exhibition with installations and performances to promote dialogue and inform policy related to food access. Installations and performances that explore food sovereignty, nutrition, domestic hunger, and the agrarian landscape will be deployed across areas of the city experiencing food access issues. Installations will be on view beginning spring of 2020.

Tulsa, OK – Reclaiming History through Public Art: “Greenwood Art Project”
The City of Tulsa proposes a public art project that celebrates a vibrant community in the Historic Greenwood District known as Black Wall Street. Comprised of black-owned businesses that emerged in the early 20th century, in 1921, Black Wall Street was subject to both racially motivated attacks and destructive urban renewal projects in the 1950s. Led by Macarthur Genius Award winning artist Rick Lowe, artists will develop work that deepens the collective understanding of the Greenwood story in time for the 100th anniversary, summer 2020 – 2021.

“This year’s applications reflect a diversity of creativity and exciting experimentation for the public to experience, and the willingness of civic leaders to embrace artists in addressing complex urban challenges.” said Kate D. Levin, head of Bloomberg Philanthropies arts team.

The Public Art Challenge is a part of Mike’s American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy. The Public Art Challenge allows mayors and artists to join forces to elevate the value of including the creative sector when developing solutions to significant urban issues. The foundation’s inaugural Public Art Challenge catalyzed $13 million for local economies across the four winning regions and illuminated civic issues including economic decline, vacancy, water conservation and police-community relations.

More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found here.

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