New Bloomberg Grant Brings Public Art to US Cities

Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Public Art Fund, Common Ground opening at City Hall Park, New York (May 23, 2012). Photo: Ryan McCune, courtesy Patrick McMullan.

After years of funding the arts here in New York, former mayor Michael Bloomberg is turning his philanthropic eye to the rest of the country. As reported by the New York Times, Bloomberg Philanthropies has launched a national Public Art Challenge for American cities that will reward at least three winning proposals with $1 million each for a public art project.

“New York City hosted nearly 500 temporary public art installations during my time as mayor, and we saw just how powerful they can be,” announced Bloomberg in a press release. “Bloomberg Philanthropies remains strongly committed to supporting public art and artists–and to helping more citizens experience familiar places in exciting new ways.”

Mayors of cities with more than 30,000 people are invited to apply beginning this week, and can enlist neighboring cities to join forces, provided one municipality takes the lead. The project costs must not be totally funded by the Bloomberg grant, which is intended to jump-start support from local organizations and individuals. Projects in all media are welcome, including performance and digital projects, as well as more traditional forms of public art like sculpture and murals.

Photo: Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Photo: Bloomberg Philanthropies.

According to the official website, the challenge calls for public arts projects created in collaboration with an artist or arts organization that will “celebrate creativity, enhance urban identity, encourage public-private partnership, and drive economic development.” Winners will have a two-year period to bring their vision to fruition.

The New York Observer compiled an intriguing list of cities that don’t immediately come to mind when one thinks of public art, but are within the target population size and could make the most of a Bloomberg grant: East Lansing, Michigan; Roswell, New Mexico; Galveston, Texas; Binghamton, New York; Coral Gables, Florida; Stillwater, Oklahoma; Albany, New York; Boulder, Colorado; Santa Monica, California; and Reading, Pennsylvania.

Applications are being accepted through December 15, 2014, and winners will announced next May.

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