Baltimore’s “Inviting Light” Public Art Project Named Finalist for $1 Million Bloomberg Public Art Challenge Grant
Press Release :: August 3
Baltimore has been selected as a finalist among 17 U.S. cities contending for the prestigious 2023 Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, which invites U.S. mayors, artists, community leaders, and residents to collaborate on temporary public art projects that shine a light on critical issues and encourage action to address them.
Renowned artist Derrick Adams will serve as the artistic lead for Baltimore’s “Inviting Light” initiative, which combines mesmerizing light installations with culturally enriching programming along the Charles Street and North Avenue intersection, a vital crossroads and the heart of the commercial and cultural hub of Station North.
Supported by a collaboration between the Mayor’s Office, Central Baltimore Partnership, and the Neighborhood Design Center, the project will unite a team of esteemed artists, including social practice curator José Ruiz and lighting design studio Flux Studio. Together, they will create a series of artistic lighting interventions activated through visual art, music, performance, film, and food.
“By making it to the finals for the $1 million Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art grant, Baltimore has an amazing opportunity to showcase our city’s incredible local talent and add even more beauty to our already wonderful community,” stated Baltimore Mayor Brandon M. Scott.”It’s an honor to be one of the 17 cities from across the country that have been shortlisted for this prestigious grant. We want to take a moment to express our gratitude to our stakeholder partners, the Central Baltimore Partnership and Neighborhood Design Center, for their continued support throughout this process.”
The foundation of the “Inviting Light” project is rooted in years of research and community engagement within the Station North Arts District, spearheaded by the Central Baltimore Partnership, the Neighborhood Design Center, and a coalition of local stakeholders. Through extensive collaboration on previous planning efforts, including the Station North Public Space Plan and National Endowment for the Arts-funded Signal Station North, the team has gained invaluable insights into the transformative potential of lighting in the nighttime environment. By embracing community-identified values, such as promoting pedestrian activity, accentuating the district’s artistic character, and fostering safety and inclusivity, Inviting Light addresses the primary infrastructure challenges hindering commercial activity in the area.
“The Inviting Light project is an opportunity to engage pathbreaking public artists to explore how light can support broad access to our city’s public spaces,” said Merrell Hambleton, Program Manager of Arts Planning and Cultural Programming at the Neighborhood Design Center. “Informed by two years of intensive community conversations and an understanding of community-held values in Station North, we hope this effort can open the nighttime environment in Station North and draw attention to light equity in every Baltimore neighborhood.”
The Bloomberg Public Art Challenge aims to fund temporary public art projects addressing pressing civic issues, with up to 10 winners receiving grants of up to $1 million each. This year’s challenge drew applications from 150 cities across 40 U.S. states. If chosen, Baltimore would execute the Inviting Light project over the next two years, further solidifying its position as a leading city in embracing public art for positive transformation.
Central Baltimore Partnership which currently manages the Arts District and has collaborated with artists on innovative programming, would lead site selection, fabrication, contracting, maintenance, and the planning/implementation of artist-led events. The Neighborhood Design Center would spearhead community engagement throughout the project, facilitating artist selection, curation, and project development in support of the Artistic Team.
“We firmly believe that enhancing lighting and revitalizing the nighttime environment in Station North is not only critical for creating safer access but also serves as a powerful catalyst for future investment,” emphasized Jack Danna, Director of Commercial Revitalization for the Central Baltimore Partnership. “Through Inviting Light, we aim to facilitate positive transformation by activating underutilized spaces with light-based interventions and cultural programming. This will engage the community through free cultural activities, fostering new interactions, and boosting positive perceptions of the district.”