Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that the City of Spartanburg, SC, has been selected as one of four cities 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’s project, “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light,” will highlight public safety and the relationship between citizens and law enforcement officers in Spartanburg, and will be developed and executed over the next 24 months.
Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of US cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic issue, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government. Proposals covered a range of issues, such as the revitalization of decayed downtown areas, underutilized waterfronts, and vacant neighborhoods. They also addressed social themes including neighborhood safety, environmental sustainability, and promoting city identity. More than 230 cities submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge, representing 68 million residents across the United States.
“We are ecstatic to have been selected,” Spartanburg Mayor Junie White said. “The Bloomberg Philanthropies grant will allow the City to partner with the Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg to develop a truly special public art project that I know will inspire our citizens. I want to thank the Bloomberg Philanthropies for this display of belief in our project and our city.”
“Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” is a partnership among internationally recognized light and digital media artist Erwin Redl, The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, and City of Spartanburg departments and civic leadership. The project will use a collaborative, neighborhood-based art-making process to enhance community policing and public safety efforts aligned with the annual National Night Out program. Its artistic objective is to provide residents and visitors with unique and dramatic aesthetic experiences of light breaking free of a purely functional role, to redefine public spaces, reduce crime, re-energize neighborhoods, educate and foster greater pride of place.
By bringing site-specific art into Spartanburg neighborhoods where residents may feel isolated from traditional cultural assets, the project will foster greater understanding of both the artistic process and the transformative impact of public art. The project will eliminate barriers to engagement as residents become part of the artistic process and help translate ideas into works of art. By de-mystifying art and artists, the project will deepen Spartanburg citizens’ personal commitment to art and culture as a shared value.
Spartanburg’s 21 neighborhood associations will be invited to submit a letter of interest to the City of Spartanburg as a demonstration of their interest in participating and their commitment to contributing to the collaborative process. Their application will outline their case for a light installation in their neighborhood and present the project team that will work with Mr. Redl and the other project partners. The intent is to select five neighborhoods that represent a diverse cross-section of Spartanburg’s residents and socio-economic backgrounds.
The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution and project-related expenditures but will not fund 100 percent of project costs. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters.
Cities of all sizes applied to the Public Art Challenge. Nearly half of the 237 submissions were from cities with populations fewer than 100,000 residents; 38 percent had populations between 100,000 and 500,000; and 13 percent of the applicant cities had more than 500,000 residents. A variety of artistic disciplines were represented amongst the applications: 61% of the proposed public art projects involved visual art, 19 percent combined multiple disciplines, 17 percent featured digital media, and three percent focused on the performing arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies narrowed the application to 12 finalists, including Spartanburg, in February.
Submissions were evaluated on a number of factors, including their potential viability as dynamic public art projects, their impact on civic issues, and capacity to establish or strengthen public-private partnerships. More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found on (http://publicartchallenge.bloomberg.org).
More information about “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” can be found on (bloomberg.org), and more more information about artist Erwin Redl can be found on (paramedia.net).
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ mission is to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Public Health, Environment, Education, Government Innovation and the Arts. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $462 million. For more information on the philanthropy, please visit (bloomberg.org) or follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.