Harnessing the Power of the Arts to Improve Communities


The Arts

The Arts program supports artists, invests in cultural organizations, and improves audience experience in an effort to strengthen the creative landscape that is critical to social and economic vibrancy in cities. Through initiatives that include facilitating collaborations between artists and local governments to address civic issues, capacity-building for small and mid-sized cultural institutions, and increasing visitor engagement through the use of digital technology, Bloomberg Philanthropies works to improve quality of life by strengthening the arts in cities across the globe.

“We have long recognized the opportunity to use art as a driver of economic development. I think that’s one of the sources of inspiration that we can give to our citizens and community.”
Karen Freeman-Wilson
Mayor, Gary, Indiana

The 2017 exhibition by Dale Chihuly at the New York Botanical Garden featured a Bloomberg Connects mobile guide. Neon 206 was one of more than 20 installations in the exhibition.

Arts Innovation and Management (AIM)

Strengthening Small and Mid-Sized Cultural Institutions in the U.S.

Inner-City Arts, an AIM participant in Los Angeles, California, provides arts education to students. Credit: Anthony Tran/Inner-City Arts

Small and mid-sized cultural institutions are critical for the arts to thrive. These organizations engage residents, strengthen neighborhoods, promote social cohesion, and contribute to a city’s economy and identity. Bloomberg Philanthropies helped to strengthen 260 of these organizations by providing financial support as well as management training.

First tested in New York City from 2011-2013, the program expanded to six cities across the country from 2015-2017: Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. The organizations selected in these cities received two years of funding for general operations as well as management training to enhance their board development, fundraising, and marketing strategies.

76 percent of AIM organizations increased their contributed income during the program

On the Ground in:

Chicago, Illinois

Dana Omar, Donterrio Johnson, Erin O'Shea, Nik-Kmeircik, and Christine Bunuan in the Chicago Children's Theatre production of The Hundred Dresses. Photo by Chuck Osgood. Chuck Osgood/Chicago Children’s Theatre

AIM in Chicago

Fifty-five cultural organizations throughout the city across artistic disciplines received funding and management training to strengthen their operations as part of AIM.

Public Art Challenge

Using Public Art to Address Local Problems

Residents of Spartanburg, South Carolina, view Under One Roof, one of nine temporary installations by artist Erwin Redl created for Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light.

Artists can be powerful drivers of civic progress, drawing attention to issues and encouraging action around them. The Public Art Challenge was founded to bring mayors and artists together to collaborate on temporary public art projects across America that strengthen communities.

In 2014, the first Public Art Challenge invited mayors and artists to work together and submit proposals for innovative projects designed to address local challenges. Four winners — Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and the New York Capital Region (a joint project by Albany, Schenectady, and Troy) — were chosen; each received $1 million to fund their ideas. Their projects — which took place between 2015 and 2017 — spurred civic leaders, artists, and residents, as well as community organizations and businesses, to work together to advance solutions to critical challenges such as abandoned buildings, environmental sustainability, community-police relations, and creative sector economic development.

In addition to offering new perspectives on important topics and engaging the community, these temporary projects generated $13 million in economic activity across the participating cities and created more than 800 full- and part-time jobs. In 2018, the second Public Art Challenge launched with a renewed invitation to U.S. cities to develop and submit ideas.

Partner Spotlight: Serpentine Galleries

Advancing the Arts in London

Serpentine Pavilion 2017, designed by Francis Kéré. Serpentine Gallery, London (23 June — 8 October 2017) © Kéré Architecture, Photography © 2017 Jim Stephenson

Since 2014, Mike Bloomberg has served as the chair of the Serpentine Galleries in London. Located in historic Kensington Gardens, the Serpentine is consistently among the city’s most popular cultural institutions, with more than a million visitors a year.

The Serpentine champions new ideas and hosts rotating exhibits that highlight the work of some of the world’s most exciting contemporary artists, architects, and designers. In 2017, this included shows by Grayson Perry and Rose Wylie. In the summer of 2018, the artist Christo plans to showcase an exhibit of his work at the Serpentine Galleries to coincide with his temporary installation of a new, large-scale, trapezoidal floating structure, called The Mastaba, on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park.

The Serpentine is also well-known for commissioning an architect to build a temporary, open-air pavilion every summer. Each pavilion serves as a short-term London landmark and marks the architect’s first major commission in central London. The award-winning architect Diébédo Francis Kéré from Burkina Faso designed the Serpentine Pavilion 2017. Mexican architect Frida Escobedo has been commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion 2018.

Bloomberg Connects

Enhancing the Visitor Experience Through Technology

The Timeline of Modern Art, part of Bloomberg Connects, is an interactive timeline that brings together images of more than 3,500 works of art by 750 artists at Tate Modern. Credit: Tate Photography

Bloomberg Connects works with 17 major cultural institutions worldwide to increase visitor engagement using digital technology.

Through features like interactive touch screens, immersive installations, and specially designed apps and mobile websites, Bloomberg Connects grantees are expanding the role that technology plays in improving the visitor experience. At the same time, these efforts also advance the missions of cultural institutions by promoting collaboration among senior leadership and curatorial, education, development, marketing, and operations departments.

Participating institutions include:

46 million Bloomberg Connects
platform uses since 2013

Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center at Cornell Tech

Using Art to Inspire Innovation in New York City

The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center’s Meeting Room 238 features Matthew Day Jackson’s Ordinary Objects of Extraordinary Beauty. Credit: Peter Tannenbaum/Cornell Tech

Cornell Tech, a new graduate school formed through a unique partnership between Cornell University and Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, offers an innovative model for graduate education that fuses technology with business and creative thinking. The school focuses on creating pioneering leaders and technologies for the digital age.

The opening of Cornell Tech’s Roosevelt Island campus in September 2017 represented a milestone for New York City and was the culmination of nearly a decade’s worth of work by many partners that began during the Bloomberg Administration.

At the Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Center, the school’s main academic building, art installations are integrated into key meeting rooms and public spaces, offering inspiration to everyone on campus. The work from renowned artists promotes creativity, conversation, and innovation — values that are all central to the mission of Cornell Tech. Today, students on campus are studying technology’s intersection with health care, law, business, computer science, and entrepreneurship.

London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE

Remembering London’s Past and Looking Toward Its Future

In the reconstructed Temple of Mithras, the past is vividly brought to life through an immersive, multi-sensory experience.

Bloomberg L.P.’s new European headquarters in London is located on one of the U.K.’s most significant archaeological sites — including an ancient temple dedicated to the Roman god Mithras. First discovered in 1954 and unveiled to the public with much fanfare, the temple was moved to a nearby location to make way for a post-war office building. As part of the development of the London office, the temple was rebuilt close to its original site.

While preparing the building site for construction, archaeologists unearthed more than 400 fragments of ancient Roman writing tablets. The collection is the largest and earliest of its kind in Britain and includes the first known reference to London, the city’s first known financial document, and the earliest hand-written document in Britain.

As stewards of the ancient site and its artifacts, Bloomberg created a cultural space that offers the public a new way to experience this historic landmark: London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE.

“Bloomberg’s fantastic new building is a huge vote of confidence in London as a destination for global business and culture. I want to pay tribute to Bloomberg for the care taken to respect and preserve the more than 14,000 archaeological finds in the London Mithraeum…”
Sadiq Khan
Mayor, London, United Kingdom

Free and open to the public, it showcases the ancient temple, a selection of Roman artifacts found during the recent excavation, and a series of contemporary art commissions inspired by the archaeology of the site. In the first six months, more than 60,000 people signed up to see the exhibit.

In addition, the new London headquarters includes exciting new artworks inside and outside of the building, reflecting a belief that art fuels collaboration and innovation in the workplace — and building on a long-standing commitment to expanding access to the arts. The Bloomberg building also highlights the company’s commitment to the future of the planet, having received the highest BREEAM sustainability rating for office design of any commercial building in the world.

To sign up for free tickets and to learn more about London Mithraeum Bloomberg SPACE, visit londonmithraeum.com