Buffalo has been chosen as one of three cities to receive Transportation for America’s State of the Art Transportation Trainings that will help the City to better incorporate public art into its transportation infrastructure projects. Members of Department of Public Works, Buffalo Art Commission, city engineers and planners, and local community members, will engage together via a technical assistance training workshop, designed to help the parties better understand the relationship between utilitarian transportation initiatives, and the engaging nature of public art. The result will hopefully be a more seamless approach to designing inspirational, interactive, functional, and efficient transportation projects that are inclusive to the community. Buffalo was lucky to be chosen out of 40 qualified candidates.
“With more than 40 communities applying for these workshops, we were struck by the range of inspiring ideas that communities have for incorporating arts and culture into the transportation planning process. Buffalo, New York; Mariposa County, California; and Bozeman, Montana rose to the top of a very competitive pool, and we’re eager to help equip them to effectively collaborate,” said Ben Stone, director of arts and culture for Transportation for America.
Currently, there is a city ordinance in place that requires public art to be implemented in all infrastructure investments. For years there has been rampant disinvestment in the realm of public art. Buffalo is sorely lacking in the interactive public art department – it took an enterprising action by the Albright-Knox (AK Public Art Projects) to reignite the public art process in Buffalo. Only recently have we begun to place importance on public art initiatives, most of which have no link to transportation projects. In the perfect world, this city would have hundreds of Small Built Works projects (for example) similar to the ones created by Brad Wales and his architecture and design students at the University at Buffalo. Instead, it has been like pulling teeth to get any real traction when it comes to buying into innovative and inspirational functional public art. Hopefully this new hands-on training will help the City to better understand the role of art and design in its transportation-related projects, and beyond.
The hands-on training will concentrate on a portion of Main Street – “To ensure the Main Street project (to improve pedestrian crossings, coordinate signals and build a new cycle track) integrates public art in ways that are not only representative of the community, but also improves the quality of life for residents.”
“As T4America (Transportation for America) has gained more real-world experience over the last few years, we’ve seen how artistic and cultural practice can spark the kind of meaningful public engagement required to create transportation projects that more fully serve a community’s needs and celebrate its unique culture. One of the best ways for T4America to have a tangible impact is to find communities that have money to invest in infrastructure and are eager to bring arts into the process, but perhaps lack the expertise to make it happen. We hope these trainings can be a key ingredient to help these three communities produce better transportation projects through more inclusive processes.”
T4America’s State of the Art Transportation Trainings are made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and ArtPlace America, in collaboration with Americans for the Arts.