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February 2, 2021

Smart Growth America Selects MARTA for Unique Public Art Project

ATLANTA – The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) public art program Artbound has been awarded a grant by Smart Growth America (SGA) for an upcoming project to address a COVID-related transit challenge through the work of a local artist. 

Since the pandemic hit, MARTA has seen an increase in unsheltered individuals using the transit system as temporary shelter. As a result, MARTA and HOPE Atlanta, a non-profit organization that offers housing, social services, substance abuse counseling, and employment, began a yearlong pilot program to take a humane and tactical approach to homelessness. 

“We are grateful to SGA for this opportunity to thoughtfully address the MARTA Hope partnership and its work since the pandemic hit,” said Artbound Director Katherine Dirga. “MARTA is a community connector and Artbound, through visual and performance art, seeks to similarly bring people together and improve the quality of life. This unique project provides an opportunity for a local artist to explore this complex issue through art.” 

The MARTA Hope Initiative pairs experienced HOPE Atlanta case managers with trained Field Protective Specialists (FPS) under the auspices of the MARTA Police Department. Working on a daily basis, the outreach teams actively engage unsheltered individuals they encounter on MARTA property including on trains and buses, and at rail stations and bus shelters. 

The selected artist will shadow these outreach teams to better understand the perspective of both the unsheltered individuals and MARTA and use that experience to create a work of public art. The SGA grant includes up to $9,500 for the artist’s fee, materials, and other project expenses and MARTA will provide the selected artist with a pass to use on the system for the duration of the project. 

Artist Requirements:

  • Must live in Clayton, DeKalb, or Fulton County
  • Must be familiar with the MARTA system
  • Must be comfortable working in diverse environments
  • Portfolio must reflect social practices 

Applicants from all artistic disciplines may apply here: https://smartgrowthamerica.org/program/arts-culture/arts-transportation-rapid-response-application/artist/

Please do not submit a concept or project proposal, rather provide information about your process in creating public art and how it is compatible with this project. The deadline for submission is February 12. Artists will be notified of their status by the end of February. 

About Artbound

One percent of MARTA’s annual budget is allocated to enhance the ridership experience through visual and performance art. MARTA Artbound provides opportunities for artists year-round with a range of projects encompassing many modes of art. To learn more visit https://itsmarta.com/artbound.aspx

About Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America envisions a country where no matter where you live, or who you are, you can enjoy living in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. We empower communities through technical assistance, advocacy, and thought leadership to realize our vision of livable places, healthy people, and shared prosperity.


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