Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is awarding a $1 million grant to Anchorage to convert an empty downtown building into a workspace for artists and designers.
Bloomberg joined Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz to announced Wednesday the first winner of the 2018 Public Art Challenge, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
The project aims to encourage the creation of public art, which helps cities attract and retain business as well as create a more enjoyable environment for residents, Bloomberg said.
"We have a saying at Bloomberg Philanthropies that culture brings capital faster than capital brings culture," Bloomberg said.
Mayors from U.S. cities with populations of more than 30,000 residents were invited to submit proposals for the challenge. More than 200 project applications were submitted, Bloomberg said.
The city is partnering with the Anchorage Museum on its project. The downtown workspace will be known as the SEED Lab — Solutions for Energy and Equity through Design, said Julie Decker, the museum's director.
"I think the city needs a space where a lot of different sectors can come together and talk about the future, and so it'll be that kind of space," Decker said.
Projects through the lab will examine issues facing Alaska, like climate, food, transportation, housing and migration, Decker said.
The first floor of the building should be ready for operation in February. Decker said 36 artists are expected to use the space in the lab's first two years.