Oct 19, 2023 - News

Exclusive: City gets public art grant for Great Salt Lake awareness

Snow and water pool up on a stretch of exposed lakebed on the southern end of the Great Salt Lake in Magna, Utah on April 6. Photo: James Roh for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Bloomberg Philanthropies announced Thursday it would award Salt Lake City a grant of up to $1 million to commission temporary public art installations that represent the plight of the Great Salt Lake.

Why it matters: Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall told Axios the art installations are meant to "enhance people's thinking, understanding and connection to the lake and the existential threat that its demise is to our city and region."

Mendenhall said the grant couldn't come at a more crucial time.

  • The Great Salt Lake's surface water elevation dropped to its lowest level on record last year amid drought, climate change and population growth.
  • Its environmental collapse would have major consequences for the state's environment and economy.

The big picture: Salt Lake City was one of eight U.S. cities selected for the grant.

  • The funding is part of the philanthropic organization's Public Art Challenge which awards cities that want to elevate civic issues through art.
  • Salt Lake City's proposed project is called "Wake the Great Salt Lake."

What's next: The city plans to launch an application process to solicit artists, project ideas and proposals for the installations that will freckle all seven council districts and near the lake.

  • The city will execute the project over the next two years.

What they're saying: Stephanie Dockery, who manages the Public Art Challenge, told Axios she looks forward to seeing how the art installations draw attention to the dwindling Great Salt Lake.

  • "We're really excited to see how this can help the city strengthen [its] messaging and build a broad coalition," she said.

Flashback: Salt Lake City was selected as a finalist in the Public Art Challenge in June.


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