Bloomberg Philanthropies, a philanthropic organization founded by Mike Bloomberg to support arts, education, the environment, government innovation, and public health, has announced $1 million in grants to eight U.S. cities, including Houston.
The grants are part of the organization’s Public Art Challenge, an initiative that was launched in 2014 and engages mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more. With the award, grantees collaborate with artists and arts organizations to develop temporary public art projects. Past projects include a community healing space developed following gun violence in Parkland, Florida; a celebration of the Historic Greenwood District, known as Black Wall Street, in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the creation of an incubator space for artists and community members to make projects addressing climate change, immigration, and indigenous issues in Anchorage, Alaska.
The Public Art Challenge has not been an annual event. Following the inaugural program, a second round was held in 2018, and this year marks the third occurrence. In November 2022, cities were invited to apply and more than 150 submissions were received. From that list, eight cities have been awarded grants, including Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, Maryland; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Orlando, Florida; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Houston’s proposed project, titled HueMan: Shelter, seeks to disrupt perceptions of homelessness. According to a press release by the City of Houston, the project “will result in the activation of eight sites for multimedia public artworks presented along a main pedestrian corridor in Midtown.” Directed by the Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs and the Midtown Houston Cultural Arts and Entertainment District, this project is a collaborative partnership with the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston, the Career and Recovery Resources, Inc. and METRO Houston.
Houston’s Mayor Sylvester Turner said, “Houston has emerged as a pioneer city in implementing thoughtful strategies to address homelessness. This generous grant enables us to further prioritize the needs of unsheltered individuals, while also reminding the public about our interconnectedness and the importance of meeting everyone’s basic needs through creative efforts. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and validated.”
An open call will be launched for the project to find and engage local artists who will work with unsheltered Houstonians, whose experiences will shape this visual storytelling project. The $1 million grant will cover project expenses, including costs associated with development and planning, artist budgets, installation and execution, and documentation. The installations are expected to be completed within the coming two years.
Learn more about Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge here.