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ArtsSupporting Public ArtPublic Art Challenge

Public Art Challenge

The Public Art Challenge invites mayors and artists to submit proposals to receive up to $1 million in funding for innovative public art projects designed to address local challenges. The program, launched in 2014, engages mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to collaborate with artists and arts organizations to develop these projects and enrich the quality of life in their cities.

In 2015, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced the first group of winning cities — Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York (a collaborative project). Their public art projects opened in 2016, drawing more than 10 million visitors and catalyzing $13 million in local economic activity. The projects spurred civic leaders and residents, as well as local nonprofits and businesses, to work together to advance solutions to critical urban challenges such as abandoned properties, environmental sustainability, community-police relations, and creative-sector economic development.

I have come to better understand the arts as a positive force for bringing communities together. Public art projects like this serve as an important reminder that there is always more to unite than divide us, particularly as we embark on our shared journey of resilience.

Christine Hunschofsky, Mayor Parkland, Florida

In 2018, Bloomberg Philanthropies launched the second round of the Public Art Challenge, selecting the projects developed by Anchorage, Alaska; Camden, New Jersey; Coral Springs, Florida; Jackson, Mississippi; and Tulsa, Oklahoma. The five winning proposals illuminated issues such as climate change, neighborhood blight, gun violence and healing, and the resilience and recovery of Greenwood, the neighborhood once known as Black Wall Street, which was destroyed in the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921.

In 2022, 154 U.S. cities from 40 states applied to the third Public Art Challenge. The eight winning cities — Atlanta, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, Honolulu, Hawaii, Houston, Texas, Orlando, Florida, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Phoenix, Arizona, and Salt Lake City, Utah — were selected in the Fall of 2023 and will focus on challenges related to climate change, equity, food insecurity, gun violence, homelessness, public health, and revitalization.

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A playlist of videos highlighting Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Projects

Top photo: Community members at the opening of artist Erwin Redl’s work, “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light,” one of four winning projects for the inaugural Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge.