Bloomberg Philanthropies works to showcase the potential of artists to act as civic leaders, drawing attention to and encouraging dialogue around pressing problems. The Public Art Challenge, founded to further this work, supports temporary public art projects that engage communities and enrich the quality of life in cities. After launching a call for mayors to submit proposals in partnership with artists, four winners were selected in 2015 for their innovative approaches to using public art to address local challenges. The winning teams from Los Angeles, California; Gary, Indiana; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York (a collaborative project), each received $1 million in funding to bring their ideas to life. Their projects, which all opened in 2016, spurred civic leaders and residents, as well as local nonprofits and businesses, to work together to advance solutions to critical urban challenges such as abandoned buildings, environmental sustainability, community-police relations, and creative sector economic development.
“I believe Breathing Lights will leave an indelible mark on the Capital Region, and I think we have already felt the effects of this stirring arts project. I am inspired by the possibilities that remain as Breathing Lights goes dark.”
Mayor, Albany, New York
Small and mid-sized cultural institutions are critical for the arts to thrive in any community. These organizations engage residents, build community, promote social cohesion, and contribute to a city’s economy and identity. Bloomberg Philanthropies is helping to strengthen 260 U.S. cultural organizations in six cities through financial support as well as management training.
First tested in New York City from 2011–2013, the program now supports cultural organizations in Boston, Massachusetts; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; and Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. These small and mid-sized groups receive support for programming and guidance to enhance their fund-raising, audience development, and marketing. Building collaborative networks of institutions in each city, the program encompasses a diverse range of cultural nonprofits that present a wide variety of artistic expression.
cultural organizations around the world supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2016
Through interactive touch screens, rooms with immersive installations, and specially designed apps, Bloomberg Connects grantees are expanding the role that technology plays in advancing the missions of cultural institutions, as well as promoting collaboration among senior leadership, curators, and education, development, marketing, and operations departments—all in the service of improving the visitor experience. In 2016, the American Museum of Natural History launched its upgraded Bloomberg Connects–supported “Explorer” app, which enables visitors to customize their experience by using augmented reality, for example, to choose a bear or a dinosaur to act as their guide to the museum. Through the app on their smartphones, visitors engage with exhibits in new, interactive ways. The app also provides museum information, directions, and the option to buy tickets. Making art and exhibits more accessible through digital technology, Bloomberg Connects works with 16 major cultural institutions worldwide
Participating museums and institutions include:
- American Museum of Natural History
- The Art Institute of Chicago
- Brooklyn Museum
- Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
- Gardens by the Bay
- The Jewish Museum
- Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art
- The Metropolitan Opera
- The Museum of Modern Art
- The New York Botanical Garden
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
- Science Museum, London
- Serpentine Galleries
- Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Tate
Bloomberg Connects users since 2013
Arab American National Museum
June 5, 2016
The Arab American National Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the first and only museum in the United States devoted to Arab-American history and culture. It not only documents the experience of immigrants and their descendants from different countries and different faith backgrounds, it also serves as a gathering place for Arab Americans and as a bridge to other communities.
The museum’s participation over the past two years in the Detroit, Michigan cohort of the Arts Innovation and Management (AIM) program, a nonprofit management training course accompanied by financial support for 260 small and mid-sized U.S. cultural institutions, began as it was preparing to celebrate its tenth anniversary. Working with Bloomberg Philanthropies and its partners gave the museum’s director, Devon Akmon, the resources and mentorship that helped him and his staff build skills and develop a strategic plan for the future.
“AIM was great in that it challenged us as an institution to think broadly about everything from strategy to programmatic goals to how we communicate with our audiences and supporters in big and bold new ways.”
Director, Arab American National Museum
Top photo: Children play under Mobile Suspension, part of the Public Art Challenge–winning project Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light. Artist Erwin Redl collaborated with the city’s police and fire departments and neighborhood associations to design and develop nine light installations that transform open spaces and create safer, more vibrant neighborhoods.