Part of former New York City mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's American Cities Initiative, a $200 million effort launched in June 2017 to help spur innovation in city halls across the country, the challenge invites mayors of cities with at least thirty thousand residents to apply for up to $1 million in funding for dynamic works of art in all disciplines. Proposed projects will be evaluated on their ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity, and strengthen local economies. At least three winners will be selected to execute their projects over a maximum two-year period; grants will cover a variety of expenses, including project development, implementation, and marketing, but will not fully fund any project.
Launched in 2014, the inaugural Public Art Challenge received submissions from more than two hundred and thirty cities and awarded grants of $1 million each over two years to projects in Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; Los Angeles, California; and (jointly) Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York. According to a national impact study, the funded projects helped catalyze $13 million in local economic activity; employed 820 people in full- or part-time positions; brought together 245 businesses, nonprofit and community organizations, and government agencies, as well as 1,300 volunteers; garnered 10 million pageviews; and resulted in 490 events and activities, including tours, workshops, and lectures.
"The Public Art Challenge brings people together to look at issues from new perspectives and uncover new solutions. The winning projects from the first competition all made a real and lasting impact in their cities," said Bloomberg. "We're looking forward to seeing what ideas emerge from this year's competition and how they can help to build a strong future for communities around the country."