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Anchorage Will Receive $1 Million for Public Art Project

City to partner with Anchorage Museum to Create “SEED Lab,” winning project of Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge


Mike Bloomberg visits Anchorage to make an announcement about the 2018 Public Art Challenge with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz; meet with the Anchorage Innovation Team; as well as attend a Moms Demand Action event.

Mike Bloomberg


ANCHORAGE—Environmentalist, philanthropist, and former New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg joined Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at the Anchorage Museum to announce that the city has been named a 2018 Public Art Challenge winner. Anchorage will receive up to $1 million as part of the Public Art Challenge for its project, Solutions for Energy and Equity through Design (SEED) Lab.

The City will partner with the Anchorage Museum to turn a neglected downtown building in the city's growing design district into a vibrant and vital cultural center.  SEED Lab seeks to build collaborations between artists, designers, engineers, and community members to draw attention to climate change and incubate solutions. Resulting projects will be prototyped with extensive community engagement.  

“Alaska is experiencing the impacts of climate change twice as fast as the rest of the country,” Michael Bloomberg said. “But it’s not too late to make a difference. That’s what the SEED Lab is all about. And by featuring a wide variety of art works about climate change, I hope SEED Lab will inspire ideas for solutions not only in Alaska, but across the world.”

Mike Bloomberg

“We SEED because we want to grow local solutions to global problems like climate change,” said Mayor Berkowitz. “We SEED because harnessing the artistic talents and creativity within the Anchorage community can have worldwide impact. We are grateful to be selected as a 2018 Public Art Challenge winner—this project gives us the opportunity to act on pressing issues in a uniquely meaningful way.”

“We strongly believe in the power of this project to transform the idea of what public art can do to enhance and strengthen a community,” said Julie Decker, Director and CEO of the Anchorage Museum in Alaska. “We are thrilled to work with the Mayor and community members to bring this to life over the next two years.”

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.  

More than 200 cities applied for the 2018 Public Art Challenge with proposals reflecting diverse artistic mediums addressed a range of pressing issues and social themes such as community development, environmental sustainability, cultural identity and immigration.  Fourteen finalists were announced in July. Additional winning cities will be announced in the coming weeks.

Submissions were evaluated on a number of factors, including their potential viability as dynamic public art projects, impact on civic issues, community engagement strategies, and capacity to establish or strengthen public-private partnerships.

Below is the Anchorage Museum's description of SEED Lab:


What is SEED Lab?

SEED Lab (Solutions for Energy and Equity through Design) embeds equity in community development and solutions through art and design.


Northern issues with global scope

Alaska is experiencing some of the key issues facing the globe, including climate change – more rapid than anywhere else in the world; rising coastlines, changing energy economies, immigration and migration, Indigenous rights and decolonization, and rural and urban divide.

Anchorage is a Northern community transforming environmental, social and economic challenges into opportunities, creating solutions potentially exportable to communities around the globe.


A collective vision of the future

SEED Lab looks at climate, food, transportation, housing, migration and other key issues facing Northern and global communities.

SEED Lab partners the Municipality of Anchorage with the Anchorage Museum and brings together the creative sector, pairing them with community change agents and cross-sector teams to create aspirational, tangible and empowering prototypes and visions for the future.


Collaboration + Community / Identity+ Inclusivity / Economy + Environment

SEED Lab builds collaborations between the creative sector and community members to enhance identity and inclusivity and to generate public-private, community-based solutions to economic and environmental challenges.


Equity through multiple perspectives

SEED Lab reaches into the corners of the community to address persistent challenges stemming from a transforming economy and environment. The foundation of equity lies in engagement that integrates the values and world-views of the Indigenous peoples who have occupied this region for thousands of years. Culture bearers are vital project participants.


Involvement from newcomers to established leaders

Reaching out to newcomers to the city with a community-wide visioning process, the project invites participation by teachers and university professors, leaders of cultural organizations, grassroots leaders, entrepreneurs, developers, neighborhoods and philanthropists.


A space for ideas and connection

Taking form as an innovation space that uses design thinking to see and seed opportunities, SEED Lab primary activities will take place in a building in the downtown Design District, across from the Anchorage Museum. Public programs occurring within the SEED Lab will be free to access. Similarly, outdoor artworks installed outside the SEED Lab in the downtown Design District, on the Museum lawn and in neighborhoods across Anchorage will have public access.


Community-driven cohorts

An initial, select group of artists, designers and cross-sector creative thinkers from Alaska and around the world will launch the project. Community change agents from many neighborhoods, perspectives, backgrounds and experiences will be key partners in understanding the needs of communities. For the next two years, cohorts will embed SEED concepts using art and design. Artworks installed throughout the community during this time will change and iterate with each cohort and with each community consultation.


Prototyping through art

The artworks will be prototypes—large-scale outdoor installations, performances, multi-media presentations, actions, public gatherings and pop-up experimental exhibitions—that reflect listening and demonstrate ideas for future solutions. Artworks become vehicles for further community consultation, with public events and discussions organized around each “reveal” and installation—prompting meaningful dialogue around tangible, aspirational and empowered solutions for communities.


Cross-sector, co-creation through learning and listening

The forms the artwork will take are not pre-determined or prescribed, as the goal is co-creation with cross-sector professionals and community members. Artists and designers will be leaders and members of cohorts, organized by the Anchorage Museum in partnership with the Municipality, that will engage with neighborhoods, hear from experts, experience the community conditions and learn about the issues.


Gather, launch, learn through public programming

Each time a temporary artwork or art action is introduced, public programming will be developed around that introduction. This includes gatherings and events, community consultation forums, creative methods for public response and input, and cross-sector discussions or “curated conversations.”


An iterative process driven by design thinking

SEED Lab acknowledges challenges, and, over time, it will affect changes in strongly-held attitudes and the way communities and community members work together. SEED Lab is an experiment—it, too, is a prototype. The resulting artworks are not pre-determined, but emerge from a process enabled by collaboration, listening, learning, cross-cultural understanding and sharing. The design-thinking process is key, as it allows for forward-thinking, optimistic, problem-solving-oriented, iterative projects that adapt and respond.


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