5 March 2015: Bloomberg Philanthropies announced that Des Moines, Iowa is one of 12 cities in the running to receive up to $1-million in funding for public art projects that address civic topics. Des Moines was among the 237 U.S. cities that applied from 45 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
The Public Art Challenge is a new program aimed at supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, enhance creativity, and enrich the vibrancy of cities. 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 issue, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government.
“At a time when imaginative ideas are redefining every industry, cities increasingly realize how important it is to embrace and encourage creativity,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. “There was a great response to the challenge we issued, and we hope these projects spur new excitement about the ways public art can strengthen neighborhoods, inspire residents and fuel local economies.”
Des Moines’s proposal called Listening to Water calls attention to Local River Ecology and Urban Water Trails. The City of Des Moines proposes to create art projects along its public waterways to engage the community in dialogue about local river ecology. Partnering with the GREATER DES MOINES PUBLIC ART FOUNDATION, these art projects will aim to explore urban water trails, watershed planning and river space.
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.
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.
The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution and project related expenditures but will not fund 100% of project costs.
The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters. At least three winning cities will be selected in May to execute their projects over a maximum of 24 months.
More information about the Public Art Challenge, including links to images and maps can be found here.