Bloomberg Philanthropies Expands Asphalt Art Initiative In Europe

Bloomberg Philanthropies announces an expansion of its Asphalt Art Initiative in Europe and opened applications for Asphalt Art Initiative grants which will provide as many as 20 cities with $25,000 for projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalise public spaces, and engage community residents.

Glasgow Tackles Climate Change with Asphalt Art

The European expansion builds upon two rounds of previous Asphalt Art Initiative grants made in 2020-2021, supporting a total of 45 projects spanning 41 U.S. cities and pilot projects in three European cities. This programme is inspired by work done to improve pedestrian safety and revitalise New York City streets during Michael R. Bloomberg’s tenure as Mayor from 2002-2013 and the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ pro bonoconsulting arm Bloomberg Associates in cities around the world. 

London, United Kingdom – Bloomberg LP employees volunteer painting of an asphalt art project supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies
(a)Yinka Ilori – Photo Credit Jason Alden

Bloomberg Philanthropies also announced the release of the Asphalt Art Safety Study, which reviewed 22 recent asphalt art projects installed in the United States and found they had spurred a reduction in road accidents, particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists, and encouraged safer driver behaviour.

“Over 40 cities have proved the power of the Asphalt Art Initiative, using creativity to rally residents around making their public spaces brighter and safer,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and 108th mayor of New York City. “With this new round of grants, we’re ready to help cities across Europe foster community spirit by uniting artists and residents – and empowering them to bring new life to their streets.”

Asphalt art projects not only create vibrant new public spaces but also build city capacity for working with artists and community groups on projects involving transportation infrastructure. Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative responds to the growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to enhance their streets, with installations on plazas and pavements, crossings and intersections, and other transportation infrastructure.

Amsterdam, Netherlands Asphalt Art (a)Kenor – Photo credit Patrick Post

Of the 42 Asphalt Art projects in U.S. cities and three pilot projects in European cities awarded grants, 18 of the projects have been completed to date, collectively transforming a combined 103,930 square feet of streetscape with artwork while engaging nearly 6,000 residents and 189 artists in the design and installation process. 

The expansion of the initiative invites all European cities with a population of 100,000 or greater to apply by July 11, 2022. Winning cities will be announced in autumn 2022 with selected projects planned for installation throughout 2023. In addition to grants, the selected cities will receive technical consulting provided by Bloomberg Associates and the City of Milan’s Agency for Mobility, Environment, and Territory (AMAT). The application and city selection guidelines are available at here.

The expansion of the Asphalt Art Initiative follows the completion of three European pilot projects in Glasgow and London in the UK, and in Amsterdam, Netherlands: 

  • In Glasgow, to coincide with the COP26 Summit in November 2021, the city installed “Water Works,” which includes a large-scale ground mural and accompanying rain gardens at the entrance to a busy railway station below a highway underpass. Designed by Glasgow-based artist Gabriella Marcella and inspired by the environmental challenges the city faces with excessive rain and water runoff, the project aims to improve pedestrian and cyclist navigation. 
  • In London, artist Yinka Ilori worked with art students from the University of Arts London to produce “Bring London Together,” which created colourful designs on 12 crossings and a pedestrian plaza in central London. The project was part of Mayor Sadiq Khan’s “Let’s Do London” tourism campaign for pandemic recovery.
  • In Amsterdam, a monumental artwork comprised of painted asphalt, planters, and benches was completed in April 2022 by the Street Art Museum Amsterdam (SAMA) and Spanish artist Kenor. Spanning 90,000 square feet of paint, “Surround Sound” is the largest artwork ever created in Amsterdam by SAMA, and transforms a well-used open-air marketplace, changing perceptions of the Plein 40-45 neighbourhood, and engaging local residents.

The new Asphalt Art Safety Study released by Bloomberg Philanthropies in collaboration with Sam Schwartz Consulting found traffic safety to be demonstrably improved across a cohort of 22 asphalt art projects in the U.S. The study results included a dramatic reduction in motor vehicle crash rates after the projects were installed, including a 50% drop in crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists and a 37% drop in crashes with injuries.

The study also found a 25% drop in the rate of conflicts between drivers and pedestrians, as well as a 27% increase in drivers yielding to pedestrians with the right-of-way. The results of the study will help cities and engineers make the case for arts-driven transportation projects and encourage similar efforts in the U.S. and across the globeThe research and more information on each of the projects can be found on the Asphalt Art Initiative website.

©2022 Bloomberg Philanthropies