Birmingham, Alabama: Putting People First
Asphalt Art Initiative provides funding and technical support for arts-based street redevelopments that improve safety, revitalize public spaces and engage local communities
Inaugural Asphalt Art Initiative in 2020 transformed nearly 86,500 square feet of streets with works of art in 16 cities
New York, New York State – Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that 26 U.S. cities will receive grants from the Asphalt Art Initiative, each providing up to $ 25,000 to install projects in 2022-2023 that use art and design to improve the safety of people. streets, revitalize public spaces and involve residents of their communities. This program builds on the work done to improve pedestrian safety and revitalize the streets of New York City during Michael R. Bloomberg’s mayoralty (2002-2013) and the work of Bloomberg Associates, the pro bono consultancy firm of Bloomberg Philanthropies. , which advises cities on the implementation of art projects on asphalt. These new grants build on the success of the Asphalt Art Initiative projects in 16 US cities that received support in 2020.
“Asphalt art projects are helping cities reclaim public spaces, make them brighter and safer, and build community – all important goals, especially amid the continuing hardships of the pandemic.” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “Cities that harness the power of public art bring new life and energy to city streets, inspiring residents and fostering a shared spirit of neighborhood pride. There can be real civic force in public art, and this program helps cities capitalize on it.
Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative responds to the growing number of cities around the world adopting art as an effective and relatively inexpensive strategy to enliven and improve safety on their streets through interventions in squares, sidewalks, crosswalks, intersections and other transportation infrastructure. The grant program, which also includes the provision of technical assistance to cities by the urban design company Street Plans Collaborative, aims to create dynamic new public spaces, establish local interagency collaborations and increase the capacity of each city. to work with artists as well as with community groups on projects involving transport infrastructure.
Selected Asphalt Art Initiative projects and cities include:
- Pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements in 10 cities: Atlanta, Georgia; Baltimore, MD; Houston, TX; Kansas City, Missouri; Long Beach, California; Memphis, TN; San Juan, RP; St. Louis, Missouri; Tucson, Arizona; and Wilmington, DE
- Pedestrian squares and public spaces in 7 cities: Birmingham, Alabama; Denver, CO; Detroit, Michigan; Fairbanks, Alaska; Newark, New Jersey; Providence, RI; and Syracuse, NY
- Murals of intersections and crosswalks in 9 cities: Billing, MT; Chicago, Illinois; Providence East, RI; Huntington, West Virginia; Kodiak, AK; New Brunswick, NJ; Niagara Falls, New York; Starkville, MS; Tallahassee, Florida
Bloomberg Philanthropies is partnering with the Alaska-based Rasmuson Foundation to support the Asphalt Art Initiative projects in Fairbanks and Kodiak, and the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation to support the Chicago project.
“From Kodiak, Alaska to Atlanta, San Juan to St. Louis, cities across the continent will show that safer, more welcoming streets are just a brush away. “ said Janette Sadik-Khan, director of transportation at Bloomberg Associates and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation. “Started in the shadow of the pandemic, the Asphalt Art Initiative has now grown into a movement. As communities recover, projects like these will inspire us not only to recreate the streets we used to have, but to make them safer, more welcoming and more vibrant than ever. “
Impacts of the Asphalt Art Initiative project:
This next phase of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Asphalt Art Initiative comes as the cities in the first round of 16 beneficiaries, announced in June 2020, will continue to roll out their projects until 2022. Twelve cities have implemented their projects in the last year and collectively they have transformed a combined 86,476 square foot streetscape with artwork and involved nearly 5,000 residents and 171 artists in the design and installation process. While evaluations are still ongoing, Asphalt Art projects have already demonstrated clear early benefits for neighborhoods:
- Improve pedestrian safety: In Kansas City, MO, a redesign of a problematic intersection reduced overall vehicle speeds by 45%, halved pedestrian crossing distances, and increased the percentage of pedestrians who felt safe crossing the intersection of 23 to 63%. Projects in Pittsburgh and Lancaster, Pa., Reshaped complex five-lane intersections, adding nine new crosswalks and making it easier for pedestrians and cyclists to navigate.
- Revitalization of public space: The Town of Reno, NV, transformed 18,000 square feet of underused concrete into a vibrant event plaza. Now a home for festivals, food trucks, and green spaces, the plaza has become a hub for community events as well as a magnet that draws visitors downtown. By reallocating a parking lane, Chattanooga, TN, created a colorful gathering space near a new supermarket in a neighborhood that has always been a food desert.
- Engaging community: Residents of Pittsburgh’s Friendship neighborhood participated in all aspects of the process, from workshops to develop the design drawings to painting the mural under the guidance of the lead artists. In Saginaw, MI, 29 artists and nearly 500 residents participated in a one-day “Paint-A-Thon” of social distancing, resulting in three large intersecting murals connected by a trail of paintings. of community butterflies. The City of Durham, NC engaged local voices through a multi-level survey process that garnered 1,826 responses that informed every step of the design process to create a safer route to a local primary school.
“Our first round of beneficiary cities showed the unique value of creativity in solving long-standing problems with the public domain”, said Kate D. Levin, who heads the arts program at Bloomberg Philanthropies, is director of cultural asset management at Bloomberg Associates and former commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. “Artists can inspire collaborative and effective community action, which translates into safer, more vibrant streets – and regenerates a sense of local identity as we tackle the impacts of the pandemic.”
The first round of Asphalt Art Initiative grants followed the publication of the Asphalt art guide, which included case studies and best practices on the development of asphalt art projects in cities around the world. The Guide has been viewed more than 6,000 times by government leaders, artists and other practitioners in all 50 US states and 83 countries. It was produced by the transportation and cultural assets management teams at Bloomberg Associates in collaboration with Street Plans Collaborative and public art consultant Renee Piechocki. For more information on all of the selected cities and to download the free Asphalt Art Guide, visit AsphaltArt.bloomberg.org.