Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced that the entry jointly submitted by the cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy 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 new program aimed at supporting temporary public art projects that engage communities, enhance creativity, and enrich the vibrancy of cities. The Capital Region, along with 11 other cities, has been invited to submit a full proposal.
The joint submission from Albany, Schenectady, and Troy proposes to illuminate up to 500 vacant homes nightly over two months (time frame to be determined). Working with artist Adam Frelin and more than 25 community and private sector partners, including the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer in Troy, this multisite installation aims to regenerate interest in once-vibrant neighborhoods that currently have high vacancy rates. This consortium proposes to culminate the project with a regional summit on vacant homes and abandoned buildings to engage local residents, prospective buyers and investors, and policy makers.
“The success of this proposal is about the power of collaborations,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “We are proud to be part of this partnership between talented artists, three great upstate cities, and a host of Capital Region community groups.”
“The cities of Albany, Schenectady, and Troy are very fortunate to be composed of residents who are both creative and passionate,” said Troy Mayor Lou Rosamilia. “It is very exciting news that we have been selected as a finalist for the Public Arts Challenge and we look forward to continuing our work together to make this project a reality.”
“I am excited to see our partnership between Albany, Schenectady, and Troy’s arts and vibrant creative community become a finalist for the Public Arts Challenge,” said Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy. “The arts are critical to making our communities even more desirable and enjoyable for current residents, potential residents, and visitors. We have seen the positive power of the arts in Schenectady’s renaissance and are committed to seeing this partnership through to its successful benefit for the region.”
The students of the Lighting Workshop at the Rensselaer Lighting Research Center (LRC) are thrilled to be involved in this effort. We are already testing technologies and mocking up prototypes to assist the capital region in winning this prestigious award.”—Russ Leslie, associate director for the LRC
“The Center for Economic Growth is proud to be part of this exciting project,” said F. Michael Tucker, President and CEO of the Center for Economic Growth. “One of the primary goals of the Capital Region Creative Economy Project is to galvanize our communities around artistic endeavors, and leverage that energy and enthusiasm to drive our regional economy. To have been selected as a finalist in this national competition shows us that we are on the right path and taking the right steps toward regional economic growth.”
“Beyond everything else we want this project to accomplish, it has to have artistic integrity. It has to be visually and conceptually strong. It needs to have the right type of visual impact that will allow anyone to be drawn to it,” said Adam Frelin. “At the risk of sounding overly confident, I truly believe that ‘Breathing Lights’ is capable of accomplishing all of this.”
“I am excited about engaging the public as we transform zombie buildings into lanterns that shine a light on their community. Stories of the neighborhood’s past, present, and hopes for the future will be captured and exhibited along with the buildings, like conversation around a campfire. The process will highlight the human impacts of abandoned property and the potential for reuse of these buildings,” said Barb Nelson ’80, AIA, one of the creators of the Capital Region public art project. Nelson serves as manager for campus planning and facilities design at Rensselaer.
“The students of the Lighting Workshop at the Rensselaer Lighting Research Center (LRC) are thrilled to be involved in this effort. We are already testing technologies and mocking up prototypes to assist the capital region in winning this prestigious award,” said Russ Leslie, associate director for the LRC.
In late 2014, Bloomberg Philanthropies invited mayors of U.S. cities with 30,000 residents or more to submit proposals for innovative temporary public art projects that address a civic concern, and demonstrate close collaboration between artists or arts organizations and city government. More than 230 cities submitted proposals for consideration in the Public Art Challenge, representing 68 million residents across the United States.
The Public Art Challenge grant will cover development, execution, and project-related expenditures but will not fund 100 percent of project costs. The grant is intended to provide catalytic funds as part of a strong, committed consortium of supporters. At least three winning cities will be selected in May to execute their projects over a maximum of 24 months.
This initiative is in alignment with the work of the Regional Alliance for a Creative Economy’s Capital Region Creative Economy Project. The joint application also reflects the growing trend toward collaboration between local cities, municipalities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to encourage projects and initiatives that benefit the entire region.