Revitalized public space to combine public art, culture, and street safety improvements
September 30, 2021
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, the City of Providence’s Arts, Culture + Tourism (ACT) Department, the Partnership for Providence Parks, Rhode Island Latino Arts and Providence Streets Coalition today announced the receipt of a $25,000 grant to create the Broad Street Cultural Corridor Plaza; a partially shaded, separated seating area at the convergence of Daboll and Public Streets where people can gather to experience pop-up performances and activities. The grant comes courtesy of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative and will include a centralized ground mural to mark the plaza.
“Providence values the importance of public art in our shared spaces,” said Mayor Jorge O. Elorza. “This project will create a family-friendly meeting space for performance art while simultaneously and creatively introducing new traffic calming measures to make our streets safer. We thank Bloomberg Philanthropies for awarding Providence with this generous grant that will bring additional vibrancy to the Broad Street neighborhood.”
Providence is one of 26 cities receiving a grant of up to $25,000 in 2021 through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative, with a focus on projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents of their communities. Bloomberg Philanthropies invited all U.S. cities to apply for the Asphalt Art Initiative in March. Winning cities were selected based on their projects’ impact, viability, and quality and visual interest.
“The work on this project location is going to bring beauty and pride to one of our South Providence neighborhoods,” said Marta Martinez, Executive Director of Rhode Island Latino Arts. “In addition to the work RILA has started to bring attention to the Latino history of what we call La Broa’ or Broad Street, this project will make South Providence a sort of mecca of creative talent of street artists and hopefully a way of creating urban regeneration and beautification.”
Beginning in February of 2022, ACT will advertise a two-tier public call for design submissions. Finalists will be selected by the City’s Art in City Life Commission (ACL) and an arts selection panel. The design award will be made by May 2022 and the mural installed during the summer of 2022. The project is scheduled for completion during the fall.
“Public art along our transit corridors makes spaces safer and more accessible to residents, workers, and new visitors to neighborhoods,” said Xander Marro, chair of the City of Providence Art in City Life Commission. “The ACL is excited to work with the Partnership for Providence Parks, Rhode Island Latino Arts, and the Providence Streets Coalition to select an artist for this site whose work will be representative of, and relevant to, the many diverse people who come through the intersections of Broad, Public, and Daboll each day.”
As part of the scope of the project, the site will undergo safety infrastructure improvements in conjunction with the newly installed public art. Drive lanes for each street will be reduced from 14 to 11 feet and curbside parking will be reduced from 9.5 to 7 feet with the addition of a one-way 5.5-foot bike lane on the right. Additionally, the ground mural will draw attention to the new infrastructure and protections, helping to ensure that individuals can safely travel to important destinations like schools, jobs, parks, libraries, houses of worship and community centers. The mural itself will cover approximately 30’ x 60’ where Public Street meets Daboll Street, as well as approximately 80’ x 20’ to the east across Broad Street.
The City of Providence and local artists first brought attention to this important intersection three years ago during a temporary demonstration event, which aimed to show community members how Broad Street and the intersections of Broad-Public and Public-Daboll could be improved with public art and safety improvements for people walking and biking and by promoting vibrant public spaces.
“The Providence Streets Coalition believes our streets and public spaces should be safe and efficient corridors for mobility, as well as beautiful, inviting places where you can engage with your neighbors, spend time outside, and support local businesses,” said Liza Burkin, Providence Streets Coalition Organizer. “No reconstruction of Broad Street would be complete without artistic reflections of the diverse communities that make it the cultural and commercial backbone of South Providence. We are so excited to see creativity, safety, and sustainability woven together on La Broá!”
The City of Providence’s Art, Culture + Tourism Department ensures the continued development of a vibrant and creative city by integrating arts and culture into community life while showcasing Providence as an international cultural destination. ACT commissions public art and produces public programming in all 25 of the City’s neighborhoods, facilitates education partnerships in schools and libraries, and produces multiple flagship festivals, an annual arts and humanities lecture, and other dynamic public programs while stewarding a small portfolio of grants.
For more information on public art in Providence, including our Landmark Public Art competition, please visit our website.