The Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs today announced that Bloomberg Philanthropies has selected the City of Atlanta as a finalist in the running to receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a new program aimed at supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, enhance creativity, and enrich the vibrancy of cities. The City of Atlanta, along with eleven other cities, has been invited to submit a full proposal.
In late 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic concern, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government. More than 230 cities submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge, representing 68 million residents across the United States.
Proposals cover a range of areas, including revitalization of decayed downtown areas, underutilized waterfronts, and vacant neighborhoods. They also address other social themes including civil rights, neighborhood safety, environmental sustainability, and promoting city identity. Submissions were evaluated on their potential viability as dynamic public art projects, capacity to establish or strengthen public-private partnerships, inclusion of strong audience engagement strategies, and commitment to evaluating outcomes and impact on the host city.
“We are proud that Atlanta was selected as a finalist for the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge,” said Mayor Kasim Reed. “The City of Atlanta understands that the arts play an essential role in defining the cultural vitality of our city and has made it a priority to create new programs and arts opportunities for Atlanta residents.”
The City of Atlanta submitted a proposal to activate Freedom Park, a 200-acre public park located in the heart of Atlanta’s civil rights district, through interactive installations of art. A series of colorful glass arches designed by artist Xenobia Bailey would be installed throughout the park along with calls to action that invite viewers to initiate conversations about freedom. Four local artists will be invited to develop art projects that highlight Atlanta’s legacy of advancing freedom, encouraging interaction among viewers, and promoting dialogue about contemporary civil rights issues.
Cities of all sizes applied: nearly 50% of the 237 submissions were from cities with populations between 30,000 and 100,000, 38% had populations between 100,000 and 500,000, and 13% of the applicant cities had over 500,000 residents. A variety of artistic disciplines were represented amongst the applications: 61% of the proposed public art projects involved visual art, 19% combined multiple disciplines, 17% featured digital media, and 3% were performing art projects.