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Annual Report / Arts

Annual Report 2021: The Arts

Elevating the Power of the Arts to Enhance Communities

The Arts program draws on the belief that arts and culture have the power to inspire creativity, spark collaboration, and build community across the United States and around the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies supports artists, public art projects, and cultural institutions to strengthen the creative landscape in cities and improve the quality of life. These efforts include facilitating collaborations between artists and local governments to address pressing civic issues, building capacity for small and mid-sized arts organizations, and increasing visitor engagement through digital technology.

Strengthening Digital Support for Cultural Institutions

Bloomberg Connects

Beginning with an audio guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1999, Bloomberg Philanthropies has long supported the development of cutting-edge digital initiatives, including mobile applications and immersive galleries, to broaden access and encourage interaction with culture on- and off-site. Today, the Bloomberg Connects program supports new digital efforts in partnership with leading cultural institutions, from a dynamic mobile app to strong virtual programming – which is especially important as the pandemic has forced institutions to reach visitors in new ways.

First launched in November 2019, the Bloomberg Connects app, developed in collaboration with engineers and designers at Bloomberg L.P., is helping more and more cultural institutions share their world-class collections and content with audiences in their spaces and at home. More than 60 institutions across the United States and Europe are now live on the app, which is available for free in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store and has been downloaded more than 600,000 times.

Read more about Bloomberg Connects

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A visitor at The Drawing Center in New York City uses the Bloomberg Connects app to learn more about the musem‘s eye-catching exhibitions.
A visitor at The Drawing Center in New York City uses the Bloomberg Connects app to learn more about the museum’s eye-catching exhibitions.

Digital Accelerator for Arts & Culture

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the importance of strong digital strategies at cultural organizations to build audiences, increase fundraising, drive revenue, and deliver dynamic programming virtually and in person. Launched in 2021, the Digital Accelerator program is helping 44 organizations in the United States and the United Kingdom to improve their use of technology. A Bloomberg Tech Fellow located at each institution is leading efforts internally, and the program is also convening technology experts to assist in project development and encouraging collaboration to share what works.


How the Digital Accelerator is Bringing Tech to the Arts

Digital Accelerator Spotlight

92nd Street Y (New York City)

Implementing an easy-to-use platform to share high-quality educational content with users and other cultural organizations.

The Apollo Theater (New York City)

Building a high-quality livestreaming system that will allow for wider distribution of live performances.

Artichoke Trust (London)

Implementing a new ticketing system to distribute free timed tickets, allowing the organization to follow up with its audiences for the first time.

Appalshop (Whitesburg, Kentucky)

Building an archive and digital asset management system of past content and improving connectivity among studio buildings in a low-bandwidth part of the United States.

Cultural Sponsorships

In 2021, Bloomberg Philanthropies supported 700 arts and cultural organizations around the world, part of a longstanding commitment to strengthening the creative landscape in cities and local communities. Ongoing sponsorships include innovative experiences like the Met Museum’s Roof Garden Commission series, sponsored since 2007, and Serpentine’s Back to Earth project, a collaborative, multiyear project highlighting the climate crisis. As the pandemic created challenges for fundraising and revenue for many cultural organizations, Bloomberg Philanthropies worked to accelerate financial support and helped launch new virtual programming to reach audiences online and at home.



Since 2014, Mike Bloomberg has served as chairman of Serpentine in London’s historic Kensington Gardens. Serpentine champions new ideas, including a focus on ecology and innovation, and hosts rotating exhibits that highlight the work of some of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, architects, and designers. In 2021, Serpentine continued its annual summer tradition of commissioning an architect to build a temporary open-air pavilion as their first major commission in central London. Referencing community spaces across London, architect Sumayya Vally and Johannesburg-based architectural studio Counterspace created the striking Serpentine Pavilion 2021, and American artist Theaster Gates has been commissioned to design the 2022 pavilion.

London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE

Serpentine Galleries

Do Ho Suh’s commission for Bloomberg SPACE in London, Proposal for Sach’ŏnwang-sa, invites audiences to consider one of ancient Korea’s most significant archaeological sites. Credit: Marcus J. Leith

Bloomberg L.P.’s award-winning European headquarters in London is the steward of a remarkable array of historical artifacts unearthed during its construction, including the largest and earliest collection of ancient Roman writing tablets discovered in Britain, the first written reference to “Londonium,” and the earliest handwritten document in Britain. To showcase these artifacts – as well as the reconstructed remains of the Roman temple that was discovered on the site in 1954 – Bloomberg created the London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE. Free and open to the public, it showcases the temple, artifacts, and a series of contemporary art commissions inspired by the archaeology of the site.

Supporting Public Art

Public Art Challenge

The Public Art Challenge invites mayors, artists, community leaders, and residents to collaborate on temporary public art projects that shine a light on critical issues and encourage action to address them. The five projects selected in the 2018 Public Art Challenge — the latest round of the challenge — are tackling issues including racial justice, food equity, neighborhood blight, healing after gun violence, and climate change. Each city received $1 million to support their projects.


Listen to Learn About the Importance of Creating Community through Public Art

Tulsa, Oklahoma, created more than 30 community-driven works of art to commemorate the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in the historic neighborhood of Greenwood. Jackson, Mississippi, developed installations, landscape architecture, murals, an organic urban farm, an elementary school learning garden, and an award-winning documentary to raise awareness of nutrition and food equity issues. Camden, New Jersey, transformed six illegal dumping sites alongside highly visible transportation corridors with large-scale installations addressing reuse and recycling. Coral Springs and Parkland, Florida, created five participatory artworks focused on healing in the aftermath of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting. And Anchorage, Alaska, transformed a vacant building into an incubator and convening space for artists, designers, and community members to create projects addressing climate change, immigration, and Native issues.

Read more about the Public Art Challenge

Pathway to Hope
Pathway to Hope, curated by Rick Lowe, showcases photographs by Don Thompson to tell the story of Greenwood along the I-22 highway, as part of Tulsa, Oklahoma‘s Public Art Challenge project.

Asphalt Art Initiative

Launched in 2019, the Asphalt Art Initiative helps cities create visual art projects on streets, pedestrian areas, and public infrastructure that make them safer and more attractive for residents and visitors to enjoy. The effort was inspired by the work of the Bloomberg administration in New York City.

In 2021, the initiative received more than 200 applications and awarded grants to 26 U.S. cities to implement their own vibrant art projects, with several projects also under way in European cities. These follow a successful first round of grants to 16 cities in 2020. Collectively, the projects have transformed over 96,000 square feet of streetscape with artwork while engaging nearly 6,000 residents and 186 artists in the design and installation process. Through the initiative, Bloomberg Associates produced the Asphalt Art Guide, which shares tools, tactics, and case studies to help more cities implement projects. It has been downloaded more than 6,500 times by governments and other practitioners in all 50 U.S. states and 83 countries.

Read more about the Asphalt Art Initiative

Reno, Nevada - Before
Reno, Nevada - Before

The City of Reno, Nevada, transformed 18,000 square feet of underutilized concrete into a revitalized event plaza, made vibrant and welcoming by artist Brad Carney’s Locomotion: A City in Motion mural.


See How Cities are Being Transformed as Part of the Asphalt Art Initiative

Strengthening Local Arts Organizations

Arts Innovation and Management (AIM)

The Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program is helping leaders of small and mid-sized cultural organizations by sharing best practices for managing operations and accessing new funding sources. Piloted in New York City in 2011 and expanded nationally in 2015 and 2018, the program seeks to build the capacity of these essential institutions by providing general operating support along with management training to enhance strategic planning, board development, fundraising, and marketing. Since its launch, AIM has supported 740 cultural organizations in 14 cities and Puerto Rico.

In 2021, AIM provided its third year of support to 195 organizations in the latest program cohort, with a special focus on advanced training in social media or strategic planning. The effort aims to help each organization develop and implement an ambitious plan to address key challenges and grow.

Read more about Arts Innovation and Management

Circus and street-arts organization ACirc, which was supported through the AIM program, convenes local and international performers for Circo Fest in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Credit: Sahid Pérez

Bloomberg Arts Internship

First launched in 2012, the Bloomberg Arts Internship program provides young people with meaningful paid work experience at cultural organizations in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Boston, along with job readiness training and college preparation. In 2021, 161 interns participated in virtual and in-person internships at 97 diff erent cultural organizations over the summer. In total, the program has graduated more than 1,100 students.

In 2021, the initiative also launched a pilot program that allows 17 interns across the four cities to continue their work part-time through the end of the school year, as well as an alumni network that connects former interns through events and an online network.

Read more about the Bloomberg Arts Internship


Making a Difference in the Community as an Arts Intern

Top photo: With Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support, the city of Paris produced Christo and Jeanne-Claude: Realized Projects, a retrospective of the artists’ work along the Seine, which was also made available on the Bloomberg Connects app. The installation coincided with L’Arc de Triomphe, Wrapped, a posthumous work realized by Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s team in September 2021.

Credit: Sarah Basti/Courtesy of Christo & Jeanne-Claude Wrapped, a posthumous work realized by Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s team in September 2021