Public Art

The Transformational Power of Public Art

Marc Chagall said, “Great art picks up where nature ends.” Public art in cities transforms public spaces, connects people and revitalizes communities. Hear from three cities utilizing the power of public art in ambitious ways, inspiring long-term positive change. Any community on any budget can benefit from the strategic targeted implementation of public art.

Public Art Murals Achieved by Public & Private Partnerships

The session will focus on public art murals in our downtowns with an emphasis on public and private partnerships to help finance the murals. Included will be simple instructions on how BIDs can manage the process for mural installation with an emphasis on regional artists to complete the murals and gaining access to funding and the walls in your community.

Black Lives Matter Mural Project

The Black Lives Matter Mural Project in the summer of 2020 enlivened and supported DowntownDC at a pivotal time for the community. This project beautified public space in the Gallery Place-Chinatown neighborhood with 35 outdoor murals, shifting boarded-up storefronts (due to inactivity because of COVID-19 and compounded by unrest and uncertainty related to social justice protests) into inviting, vibrant and hopeful spaces.

Brighten the Passage

Brighten the Passage is a public space and infrastructure improvement project aimed at consciously rebuilding physical and sociological connections between downtown Milwaukee’s central business district and the Historic Third Ward neighborhoods – connections that have been severed for decades by the elevated freeway. The project enhancements are practical and impactful tactics that included large-scale murals on the freeway support piers and dynamic, programmable color changing LED lighting.

Project Hope, Unity and Compassion

Throughout history, downtowns and town squares have served as the foundation of society’s freedom of expression and the center of community discourse. Downtown Tulsa is certainly no different. At an incredibly tense time in our community, and in the midst of planning for unprecedented events, we found an opportunity to showcase Downtown Tulsa’s core values on temporary canvases.

SODO Track

The SODO Track is transforming the portal to Downtown Seattle—a two mile transit corridor lined by industrial building backs—into an imaginative raceway of art in motion for over 50,000 people to experience daily. What was once an industrial zone is now a world-class art destination and a fitting welcome to the international city Seattle has become.

VMF Winter Arts

VMF Winter Arts is a free, augmented reality experience transforming public space across Vancouver’s downtown core into a free, interactive, open-air gallery. Winter Arts showcases the talented work of 26 artists and animates over 20 downtown public spaces in a completely new way. Blurring the line between the virtual and physical worlds, VMF Winter Arts highlights the convergence of art and technology to safely engage and connect art and people in public spaces over three weeks.

Messages for the City

Created in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Times Square Arts presented Messages for the City in partnership with Poster House, PRINT Magazine, and For Freedoms. First debuted on April 17, 2020, this Times Square and citywide public art campaign featured artist-designed PSAs and messages of love, gratitude, and solidarity with New York City’s health care and essential workers.

World of Winter

The World of Winter Festival is a two-month long festival that takes advantage of Michigan’s cold climate to provide interesting ways for people to experience and enjoy the season. This Festival aspires to make Grand Rapids a more active winter city, making Grand Rapids an active year-round city by hosting all activities outdoors in public spaces. All programming and activities are FREE, socially distanced for these pandemic times and geared for both families and adults.

Portland Downtown Tree Cam

In lieu of our traditional, “one night only” tree lighting event, Portland Downtown, Hood® Eggnog, and Portland Public Library launched something all new for 2020: a 24/7 live-streaming “tree cam” overlooking an iconic downtown park called Monument Square. The cam created a virtual window so that visitors locally – and across the globe – could enjoy the illuminated tree & its surroundings anytime, anywhere throughout the holiday season.

The Care Campaign

The Care Campaign is a collection of 14 murals that popped up in our Downtown Dartmouth business district in fall 2020. We worked with a member business to create a placemaking project that would encourage people to feel embraced and connected, at least in mind and spirit, while circumstances beyond anyone’s control make that physically impossible. We received feedback from people of all walks of life that the Care Campaign murals have brought them feelings of happiness and inspiration.

Delightful Doorways Mural Program

The Delightful Doorways Mural Project (DDMP) is a public art placemaking program in Downtown Berkeley whose mission is to transform dark and unsafe street level fire exits and industrial doorways located throughout the district into unique colorful works of art by local artists.

Advancing Places: Art as a Tool for Healing

The past year and a half has been filled with extraordinary challenges brought on by a global pandemic. Join this session and learn from two 2021 Pinnacle Award Winning projects on how BIDs can participate in social, cultural and political moments by bringing in the arts community. This pandemic has changed the relationship between people and public space, and new partnerships have developed over time.

Advancing Places: Graffiti and Murals

Unwelcome graffiti can significantly affect the perceptions of cleanliness and safety in a district. Questions surrounding who is physically responsible and economically liable for removal can cause confusion among urban place leaders, business owners and local government officials. This session will explore how three graffiti removal programs were established and maintained to positively impact their district.

How Investments in Arts Vibrancy Drive Economic Vibrancy

How can the arts act as a catalyst for economic development? What are the factors that drive a vibrant arts sector? This session will explore how arts vibrancy evaluations can steer investments in economic development to improve lives and the economy. Join speakers as they discuss the economic contributions of the arts in diverse communities and study cases of the arts driving business development.

Place Leadership Network: A Brave Experiment in Equitable Place Management

In 2019, eight place-management groups in the Boston area —from BIDs to main streets to conservancies— began a year-long journey of leadership development, capacity building and learning from one another. In a region grappling with environmental resilience and social inequity, this cohort of place managers is working together to make and keep public places vibrant, creative and inclusive.

Downtown Activation and Public Art Initiative (DAPA)

The Downtown Activation and Public Art Initiative (DAPA) was created in 2012 to enliven Downtown Pittsburgh through a diverse and engaging use of public art, creative placemaking, and entrepreneurship. The initial goals of DAPA were to: Create thoughtful and innovative programming; Engage a diverse group of stakeholders; Develop event funding strategies; Include opportunities for local businesses to engage.

Writing on the Walls

Writing on the Walls is an annual series of collaborative public art installations and events. At the inaugural event in March 2020, local, national and international artists simultaneously created two new landmarks in downtown Austin, including our city’s largest mural to date. This mural is located on the iconic Congress Avenue, 11 blocks south of the state capitol, and located at the gateway into downtown Austin.

Shining A Light

In December 2018 Lilly Endowment, Inc. awarded $7.6 million to Downtown Indy, Inc. and partner, Indiana War Memorials Commission, to execute Shining a Light on Indianapolis: Bringing Arts and Culture Full Circle. The initiative was designed to collaboratively infuse arts and culture into Indianapolis through artistic video mapping, lighting and activation on the city’s premier civic plaza, Monument Circle.

Celebrating the Mississippi Riverfront

In celebration of their 100-Year Anniversary, the Rotary Club of Baton Rouge, a service association comprised of area business and professional leaders, donated a unique sculpture to the City of Baton Rouge. The spherical sculpture, known as Sing the River, is installed on the Mississippi Riverfront and offers a unique landmark for all to enjoy. Like a futuristic globe sitting on the edge of the river, people are drawn to it; to see reflections of themselves and the city that surrounds it.

The Rail Park: A Railroad and Neighborhood Story Wall

The Rail Park is an adaptive reuse of the Reading Viaduct, once used by the Reading and Pennsylvania Railroads, and a hub for hundreds of rail lines. At the entrance to the park is an 80-foot long “ghost map” wall that provides a dramatic visual reminder of what this industrial neighborhood once was, and the fascinating stories and significant architecture that merited its placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

Roots of Rubber

Brought to life through a partnership between Akron Public Schools National Inventors Hall of Fame School (NIHF) for STEM Learning, Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP), local government, and the Knight Foundation, the project highlighted the importance of activating public space in our community. Roots of Rubber features the creative excellence of Spanish arts collective Boa Mistura, the inspirational words of Akron native Laureate Rita Dove, and the imaginative hands of our city’s future.

Fence Art Activation

The Fence Art activation started in 2019 and is an ongoing activation that thrives to bring beauty and art to the downtown area. The art is installed in areas that are fenced off due to development, construction, safety, etc. The art itself is sourced from a local artist and is built by community members, along with the artist. The message is in the art. Art should be an expression that can be absorbed by anyone within the community.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Opening Master Talk Presentations

Campus No. 805 is an award-winning adaptive re-use project that converted a former middle school campus into a mixed-use entertainment experience with multiple local breweries, restaurants, entertainment options and a public green space. Join us as we kick-off the inaugural Place Branding & Placemaking Summit with a multi-stop reception where attendees will get to experience why “school’s out forever” and full-time fun is the new curriculum at Campus No. 805.

Placemaking Summit 2019 Closing Master Talk Presentations

Closing Master Talk with Rob Robinson, Managing Principal, Urban Design Associates (Pittsburgh, PA), Anna Lowder, Co-Founder, Matter Design Co. (Montgomery, AL), Nick Lasater, Co-Owner & CEO, Rocket City Digital (Huntsville, AL), and Josh Yeager, Co-Founder, Bright Brothers Strategy Group (Philadelphia, PA).

Standout Place Branding

Change is constant in our line of work, and when change continually occurs in urban places and spaces, the stories that we tell about them must hold true. But how do you change the narrative of place and what does that entail? For urban place managers, branding a district / place conjures more questions than answers: how much will it cost? How many stakeholder groups do we need to involve and who? How long will it take? What are we actually branding? What is our brand? Will this even make a difference? In this panel, practitioners will detail the process of refreshing or enhancing a brand, including insights into the somewhat complicated and contentious process of deciding when to take action, how to set budgets, who to work with and how a brand refresh impacts more than just marketing collateral – it also affects the entire built environment and visitor experience.    

Sponsorships, Marketing and the Controlled Chaos of Events

This session is designed to aid districts in navigating the ins and outs of event sponsorships and marketing. Learn about knowing what types of events best suit your districts, when and what to market, as well as how to capitalize on sponsorship opportunities. Case studies include Pittsburgh’s “Picklesburg,” Wilmington’s hurricane recovery events and Hartford’s multitiered space activation.

Public Art and Authenticity: From Beauty to Community, from Pretty to Political

Many place management organizations that began with “clean and safe” (and viewed public art as merely a re-branding tool) are now becoming sophisticated curators of culture, and serving as a counterpoint to the homogenization that often grows from economic success. This panel explored the tools for nurturing genuine partnerships with cultural organizations from different communities in a way that empowers lesser-known artists, connects disparate communities and develops an authentic urban core.

The Power of International Partnership

Ahead of Mayflower 400, the downtown orgs in Baltimore, MD and Southampton, UK have “twinned” with each other after meeting at the World Towns Leadership Summit in Berlin. With a mirrored history of waterfront regeneration, the two organizations have identified common themes and shared, knowledge, ideas, staff, and artists. The Japan Area Management Network will review its new collaboration with Singapore and South Korea on common issues and opportunities resulting from the summit in Tokyo.

From Creation to Curation: Inclusive, Experimental Approaches to Furniture

Outdoor furniture can fundamentally shape the way people engage with a public space. But curating furniture that addresses a place’s unique needs, characteristics and culture can be a challenge. This presentation highlights how different place managers empowered artists and designers to craft furniture that elevates the public space and connects it to the surrounding city.

Commonwealth Canal Promenade

The Commonwealth Canal Promenade was a key revitalization component to Chandler’s long-term redevelopment plan. The project included clearing oleanders and palm roots, re-establishing the flow line and concrete lining, and constructing a canal promenade. Other improvements included an art fence, railings with historic information panels, a courtyard, landscaping, lighting, drainage and roadway reconstruction. Collaboration with all involved parties ensured the project’s successful completion.

Passageways 2.0

Passageways 2.0 transforms a 6,200 square foot alleyway in the core of Downtown Chattanooga. City Thread, a series of simple steel tubes, creates a space that extends our attitude of adventure. By its geometry, the project possesses many potential settings including lounging, mini-stages, framing for art, concerts, markets, movie screenings, and more. The design is intended to allow casual users and those in charge of programming to discover different ways to utilize the alley.

Coxe Avenue Complete Street Demonstration Project

The project was initiated to accelerate mobility improvements to a developing corridor in an Asheville neighborhood. Coxe Avenue formerly contained a high density of automotive uses but is now the site of mixed-use developments and dining options. The project involved a public engagement process, held on a compressed timeline. The design features a shared-use path and an intersection mural. The final installation includes eight new crosswalks, a multi-use path, and the 6,000 sq. ft. mural.

The Urban Backyard Project

The Urban Backyard Project is a series of vinyl wraps covering existing Los Angeles Department of Transportation signal cabinets. Building off similar public art programs, the wraps display wayfinding information including directional signage, maps, points of interest, and walking distances. Because of the low cost of installation, as the neighborhood changes individual panels will be updated and replaced, allowing the project to provide updated pedestrian wayfinding in a changing environment.

She Tempe

In an effort to revitalize and refresh the district’s street-level appearance, the Downtown Tempe Authority (DTA) decided to wrap the fourteen news racks throughout the downtown district in works of art. Eleven local female artists were asked to submit works that portrayed females. This project celebrates local creative talent, enhances a sense of place and helps create an engaging and vibrant pedestrian experience in Downtown Tempe.

50th Annual Fall Tempe Festival of the Arts

This 3-day art festival takes place in the streets of Downtown a.k.a. the heart of Tempe. A .42-mile radius that spans from one of few Arizona reservoirs, Tempe Town Lake, to University Drive bordering the Arizona State University campus. One of our organization’s goal is to curate diverse and impactful experiences that cultivate community engagement, which is a major factor in why the Downtown Tempe BID produces the Tempe Festival of the Arts in-house.

555 Monroe North Park

The City of Grand Rapids received a grant to purchase a riverfront surface parking lot and sought out Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.’s assistance with moving quickly to animate the space. Through the help of our citizen lead Alliance, the Business Association, local non-profits, 30+ volunteers and 40+ artists, we were able to activate the space with a quicker, cheaper approach using repurposed materials to create a new unique public space in our downtown that could be used year-round.

Downtown Durham Public Space Project

The Downtown Durham, Inc. Public Space Project is an activation project focused on retaining and supporting the creative and artistic cultures of Durham and upholding public spaces of convergence. The Public Space Project is a re-granting program that provides funding to individuals and organizations who bring temporary, creative, free of charge experiences to downtown Durham’s public spaces.