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Tulsa Selected as a Finalist for a $1 Million Grant for Public Art Project

This article was archived on 8/19/2018

Tulsa’s Proposal to Focus on the Story of Black Wall Street

Bloomberg Philanthropies today announced that Tulsa has been selected as a finalist in the running to receive up to $1 million as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, a program that aims to foster creative collaboration, address civic issues, and support local economies through public art. More than 200 cities applied, and Tulsa, along with 13 other cities, has been invited to submit a full proposal.  

In February, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for temporary public art projects that address important civic issues, and demonstrate an ability to generate public-private collaborations, celebrate creativity and urban identity and strengthen local economies.

“As the centennial of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre approaches, we want to partner with community stakeholders and engaged citizens to tell the story of Black Wall Street. As a reminder of the dangers of hatred, the power of resilience, and the importance of reconciliation, it is a story that needs to be known far beyond the reaches of Tulsa,” Mayor G.T. Bynum said.  

Proposals received from cities across the country address a range of pressing issues and social themes such as environmental sustainability, immigration, national disaster recovery and cultural identity. Additionally, the proposals reflect a diverse use of artistic mediums including augmented reality, light installations, murals and performances.

Located in the Historic Greenwood District, the story of Tulsa’s Black Wall Street, the country's most vibrant community of black-owned businesses in America, is one of tragedy, triumph and resilience. Black Wall Street emerged in the Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa during the turn of the 20th century. Starting in 1921, the community has been subject to racially motivated attacks and unfavorable urban renewal projects in the 1950s. If Tulsa is selected, internationally renowned artist Rick Lowe will lead a team of artists to develop an artwork that deepens the collective understanding of the Greenwood story.

Bloomberg Philanthropies will select at least three winners from among the 14 finalists in the fall to execute their projects over a maximum of 24 months. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters. As such, the Bloomberg Philanthropies grants will cover project-related expenditures including development, execution, and marketing, but will not fund 100 percent of the total project costs.

The Public Art Challenge is a part of Mike Bloomberg’s American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy. The Public Art Challenge allows mayors and artists to join forces to elevate the value of including the creative sector when developing solutions to significant urban issues.

Bloomberg Philanthropies has a proven track record of supporting creative and innovative public art. Over 400 cities have submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge since 2014. The foundation’s inaugural Public Art Challenge catalyzed $13 million for local economies across the four winning regions and illuminated civic issues including economic decline, vacancy, water conservation and police-community relations.

More information about the Public Art Challenge can be found at:


About Bloomberg Philanthropies

Bloomberg Philanthropies works in 480 cities in more than 120 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s charitable activities, including his foundation and his personal giving. In 2017, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $702 million. For more information, please visit or follow Bloomberg Philanthropies on FacebookInstagramSnapchat, and Twitter.