Skip to content

Arts & Transportation Rapid Response initiative now accepting applications

Arts & Culture

Using arts to create better pandemic projects

Editor’s note: A version of this article was originally published by our partner, Smart Growth America

With support from The Kresge Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, Smart Growth America is now accepting applications for the Arts & Transportation Rapid Response, a new opportunity for cities looking to creatively and quickly address pandemic-related transportation challenges.

Across the U.S., transportation agencies are stepping up to the myriad of obstacles brought on by COVID-19 and stay-at-home restrictions. Once busy streets are largely empty. Sidewalks are now unsafely narrow and cramped. Transit service changed overnight.

In response, cities and transit agencies are testing new ideas, experimenting with pilot projects, and simply trying to respond to a rapidly evolving landscape. Artists and designers who are also struggling with cancelled projects and performances can help.

How can artists assist cities with open streets projects? In a recent blog, Smart Growth America outlines numerous ways, including:

  • Designing durable, aesthetic, affordable and appealing barricades and/or signage to block cars and encourage people to practice social distancing.
  • Manage crowds at bus stops and transit stations with materials and clear instructions.
  • Create space for queuing at grocery stores, takeout restaurants and other retail spaces.
  • Build safe and comfortable public spaces for people to use Wi-Fi from public buildings while remaining outside.

Smart Growth America invites transportation agencies seeking creative expertise in their COVID-19 transportation response to apply. The deadline for submission is 11:59 p.m. ET. on Tuesday, May 26.

Selected agencies will be matched with an artist who will work with the agency over the next few months on their proposed project. Are you an artist looking to get involved? Fill out this form to add your name to the list of artists who would like to be involved. Participating artists will receive between $5,000 to $20,000 to support their time and project materials, as well as a short series of training sessions to prepare them to work with the transportation agencies.

Agencies applying for this opportunity should submit project ideas that can be addressed with this scale of funding. Smart Growth America will also provide project management support, a photographer to document each selected project, and a stipend in the range of $2,500- $7,500 (based on the project scope) to the selected agencies to ensure this is a benefit rather than a burden to their ongoing work.

Selection criteria:

  • Appropriateness of selected challenge or opportunity, and its relationship to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Level of creativity exhibited by the explanation of how an artist or designer might help.
  • Relevance of an artistic intervention to support the selected challenge or opportunity.
  • SGA will select cities that represent a diverse range of population sizes, geographic locations, and transportation challenges and opportunities.
  • Connection to addressing inequities in transportation.

Review the Arts & Transportation Rapid Response Frequently Asked Questions.

Both images are courtesy of Tree Hugs, a project by Amanda Lovelee, Park Ambassador at the Metropolitan Council and Design. Illustration by Witt Siasoco.