Smart Growth America is excited to announce the selection of five jurisdictions to participate in the Arts & Transportation Rapid Response initiative. Over the next few months, these jurisdictions will implement artist-led projects to address COVID-19 transportation challenges.
After receiving an unprecedented number of applications—almost 200— Smart Growth America has selected five agencies to participate in the Arts & Transportation Rapid Response initiative. Each of their proposed projects seeks to address COVID-related transportation challenges and systemic inequities and do so in unique, creative ways, with the support of local artists. (Read more background about this program here)
Over the summer, Smart Growth America’s Arts & Culture team will work with the following agencies:
- Detroit Department of Public Works (Detroit, MI)
- Oakland Department of Transportation (Oakland, CA)
- Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (Las Vegas, NV)
- San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit—BART (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
- West Central Initiative (West Central Minnesota)
Meet the projects
Detroit Department of Public Works (Detroit, MI)
Detroit has been hit particularly hard by COVID-19 with one of the highest mortality rates in the country, compounding efforts to combat existing public health issues and provide access to basic services. The Detroit Department of Public Works will partner with an artist to implement creative wayfinding to connect gaps between major bus stops to nearby community recreation centers. These recreation centers provide access to critical services such as food, employment resources, cooling centers, and other programming for vulnerable community members, many of whom are accessing these centers for the first time during the pandemic.
Oakland Department of Transportation (Oakland, CA)
The City of Oakland launched their Slow Streets Program in April to support active transportation and safe physical activity during the pandemic using typical construction barricades to close over 20 miles of streets to motor vehicles. They’ll partner with an artist to design a new Oakland Slow Streets “look and feel” that better reflects the unique community identities across Oakland, rather than bringing to mind construction sites.
Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (Las Vegas, NV)
The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada’s Bonneville Transit Center (BTC ) in Las Vegas is a major transit hub that connects frontline workers, residents, and tourists to employment, essential destinations, and attractions. They’ll work with an artist to design and implement artwork and signage at the BTC that educates the public about social distancing and safe transit riding practices.
San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit—BART (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
Nationwide, wearing masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 has unleashed serious issues and concerns for people of color, specifically Black, Latinx, and Asian people due to racially-motivated harassment and violence. San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) recognizes that facial coverings may attach an additional stigma to people who already experience discrimination and is committed to ensuring transit is safe and as welcoming as possible for all riders. BART will collaborate with an artist to pilot a community-informed intervention strategy to deconstruct racial prejudices worsened by COVID-19, and normalize the culture of mask wearing on transit.
West Central Initiative (West Central Minnesota)
West Central Initiative (WCI) seeks to reach a more diverse range of stakeholders to better inform their transportation planning—specifically active transportation—throughout west central Minnesota. They’ll work with an artist to create a reusable community engagement kit consisting of both virtual and physical tools that can be used while social distancing is required, which will be used by WCI staff across the nine-county region.
Smart Growth America has partnered with Forecast Public Art to assist in the matching of artists with the selected agencies. Forecast, based in St Paul, Minnesota, is a national nonprofit organization that activates, inspires, and advocates for public art that advances justice, health, and human dignity.
Stay tuned for more information on this project. We’ll make a public announcement after the artists have been finalized.
This program is made possible with support from the Kresge Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.