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Bloomberg Philanthropies Invites U.S. Cities to Apply for Grants and Guidance to Transform Streets and Public Spaces Through the Asphalt Art Initiative

Bloomberg Philanthropies will award up to 20 U.S. cities Asphalt Art Initiative grants for arts-driven street redesigns that improve safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage local communities

2020 Asphalt Art Initiative projects in Kansas City, MO, Saginaw, MI and Norfolk, VA (clockwise from top left)

New York, NY – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that cities can now apply for Asphalt Art Initiative grants, which will provide as many as 20 U.S. cities up to $25,000 each for projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents of their communities. This program, announced at the Bloomberg CityLab 2021 global cities summit, is inspired by work done to improve pedestrian safety and revitalize New York City streets during Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure as Mayor from 2002-2013 and the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ pro bono consulting arm Bloomberg Associates.

“Asphalt Art Projects can help cities rebuild from the pandemic by reinvigorating streets and making them safer, while also lifting spirits,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies. “As we’ve seen through our work in cities around the world, vibrant public artwork and smarter street design can inspire residents, build relationships between artists and the community, and help cities recover stronger than before.”

The grant program is designed not just to create vibrant new public spaces but also to build city capacity for working with artists and community groups on projects involving transportation infrastructure. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative responds to the growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to activate their streets, with interventions on plazas and sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections and other transportation infrastructure.

In this second round, all United States cities are welcome to apply from March 2 to April 30, 2021. Winning cities will be announced in fall 2021 and all selected projects will be installed by the fall of 2022. The application and city selection guidelines are available at AsphaltArt.bloomberg.org.

This next phase comes as the first round of 16 grantees, announced in June 2020, continue to roll out their projects. The cities of Kansas City, Missouri, Saginaw, Michigan and Norfolk, Virginia installed projects in the fall of 2020. They have transformed a combined 20,000 square feet of streetscape with artwork and engaged nearly 1,000 residents and 37 artists in the design and installation process. Kansas City’s redesign of a problematic intersection also reduced overall vehicle speeds by 45 percent, shortened pedestrian crossing distances by 50 percent, and increased the number of pedestrians who feel safe crossing the intersection by 40 percent. The remaining cities, which will install their projects throughout 2021, include: Chattanooga, Tennessee; Durham, North Carolina; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Columbus, Indiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Cincinnati, Ohio; Reno, Nevada; Trenton, New Jersey; Troy, New York; Dubuque, Iowa; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Richmond, Virginia; and Calexico, California.

The first round of the Asphalt Art Initiative grant coincided with the publication of the Asphalt Art Guide, with case studies and best practices from cities around the world. The Guide, which has been accessed more than 4,500 times by governments and other practitioners in all 50 U.S. states and 83 countries, is free for download at AsphaltArt.bloomberg.org. It was produced by the Bloomberg Associates Transportation and Cultural Assets Management teams in collaboration with urban planning and architecture firm Street Plans Collaborative and public art consultant Renee Piechocki.

“Adapting our cities post-pandemic isn’t just a question of engineering or epidemiology, but of imagination. By bringing light, color and creativity to blacktop, asphalt art projects can bring people together after so much time apart and breathe new life into our cities and our streets,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, Principal for Transportation at Bloomberg Associates and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. “From open streets to outdoor dining, this past year has made the importance of the public realm clearer than ever, and this program will help cities coast to coast make their streetscapes as vibrant as the communities that come together to create them.”

“At a time when the pandemic has limited so many kinds of interaction, asphalt art can provide a safe way to champion and enjoy a community’s creativity,” said Kate D. Levin, Principal for Cultural Assets Management at Bloomberg Associates and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. “Our inaugural projects have also catalyzed cross-sector collaborations among city agencies, neighborhood groups and artists that can help support longer term recovery. We are thrilled to extend this opportunity to more cities.”

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About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 810 cities and 170 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2020, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.6 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org or follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTube, Twitter and TikTok.

About Bloomberg Associates
Bloomberg Associates is the philanthropic consulting arm of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable organization, Bloomberg Philanthropies. Founded in 2014, we work side by side with client cities to improve the quality of life for residents, taking a strategic, collaborative and results-oriented approach to making cities stronger, safer, more equitable and efficient. Our team of globally recognized experts and industry leaders has worked with cities across the globe on hundreds of projects in order to ignite change and transform dynamic vision into reality. For more information on the consultancy, please visit www.bloombergassociates.org or follow us on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Rebecca Carriero, Bloomberg Philanthropies +1 (212) 205-0182 or rebeccac@bloomberg.org