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WNY Papers: Niagara Falls 1 of 26 US cities awarded Asphalt Art Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies

By December 15, 2021Turning Heads

Grant aims to transform streets & public spaces in north-end community of Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is one of 26 U.S. cities across the country to be selected to receive a $25,000 Asphalt Art Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The grant application was submitted by the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area (NFNHA) in partnership with the City of Niagara Falls. It aims to infuse impactful community-driven advocacy and development in the north end of Niagara Falls by enhancing safety for pedestrians and cyclists, improving public spaces, and installing vibrant crosswalk murals at intersections.

“We are so excited for this opportunity in the north end community, a neighborhood with a legacy of creativity, resilience and courage. It’s an extension of our ongoing work with the community to bring attention to the city’s Underground Railroad history and local stories,” said Ally Spongr, interim director of the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, an organization working in partnership with the NFNHA.

Saladin Allah, project coordinator for NF Murals – the public art initiative of the NFNHA – said, “This is excellent news. In our predominantly Black community here in the north end of Niagara Falls, active community participation in these art projects have enhanced a sense of pride, ownership and has given a voice to our community’s authentic identity.”

The partnership of the NFNHA and the City of Niagara Falls has pointed to three specific locations that form a triangle in the north end: three major intersections connecting high-traffic areas to the widely used Legends Park recreational basketball courts, the Niagara Falls Public Library, Henry Abate Elementary School and the Niagara Falls Transportation Authority Portage Road Transportation Center.

“As Bloomberg Philanthropies points out, vibrant public artwork and smarter street design can inspire residents and have tangible impacts on improving safety and the lives of our residents,” said City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino. “These creative initiatives are important to enhance Niagara Falls, strengthen our pride, and bring enthusiasm for something better to come.”

The planning for the project will begin this fall, with implementation next spring. For more information on the Asphalt Art Grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies, visit this link.

The NFNHA is one of 55 National Heritage Areas in the U.S. Designated by Congress in 2008, its mission is to preserve, protect and promote the historic, natural and cultural resources of the area stretching from Niagara Falls to Old Fort Niagara in Youngstown. The NFNHA facilitates partnerships between artists, public and private organizations, and community members and stakeholders to envision and create public art, impacting the cultural landscape with pieces that “reflect and honor the history and legacy of Niagara Falls.” Learn more at discoverniagara.org & nfmurals.org.

Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative provides cities with grants of up to $25,000 each, as well as technical support, for projects that use art and design to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents of their communities. The Asphalt Art Initiative responds to the growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and relatively low-cost strategy to enliven and improve safety in their streets through interventions on crosswalks, plazas and other transportation infrastructure. It is inspired by work done to improve pedestrian safety and revitalize New York City streets during Michael R. Bloomberg’s mayoralty (2002-13) and the work of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ pro bono consulting arm, Bloomberg Associates, advising cities on implementing asphalt art projects.

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