National Endowment for the Arts Publishes Booklet on Agency's Mayors' Institute on City Design
November 16, 2004
The National Endowment for the Arts announced today the availability of a free booklet about one of the NEA’s signature programs, the Mayors' Institute on City Design. Since 1986, this program has gathered together mayors and design professionals to solve problems facing our nation’s urban centers, with positive results. With the advent of the 35th national Institute to be convened early next year, the NEA and its partners published the booklet to describe the program, highlight its alumni, and celebrate their accomplishments.
The Arts Endowment's partners in the Mayors' Institute are the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the American Architectural Foundation. The Mayors Conference provides the Institute with its close connection to its clientele -- the nation's mayors -- while the American Architectural Foundation administers the program.
The goal of the Mayors' Institute on City Design is to give mayors a better understanding of how design can be used to enhance the structural, social, and economic well being of their cities. Institutes are hosted by design schools such as Harvard University and the University of California at Berkeley and feature eight mayors, eight design professionals, and eight design problems brought by the mayors. Over two and half days of sequestered conversations, the group thoroughly investigates those issues and develops solutions.
Arts Endowment Chairman Dana Gioia said, "Of all the programs by the National Endowment for the Arts, it is hard to imagine one that has done more tangible public good than the Mayors' Institute on City Design. Even a short list of this program’s many accomplishments demonstrates the positive leadership and informed counsel the Mayors' Institute has provided to communities across the nation."
The Mayors' Institute on City Design began in 1985 when Mayor Joseph P. Riley of Charleston, South Carolina and his colleague Jaquelin Robertson approached the Arts Endowment with the idea for a program in which mayors could discuss their role as their city’s chief urban planner. The first Institute held in 1986 led to the convening of two, and later six, institutes per year.
Since then, the Mayors' Institute has graduated 625 mayors and more than 400 design professionals. During the sessions, mayors gain a better appreciation for the power of design and the design community is educated about the latest needs of cities.
J. Thomas Cochran, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Mayors notes, "America is defined by its cities and cities are defined and made memorable by their landmarks, their waterfronts, their neighborhoods, their great public spaces. No one has more influence on a city’s design than its mayors and that why the Mayors' Institute on City Design is so powerful."
An example case study is Louisville, Kentucky where Mayor Jerry Abramson sought to revitalize the city's waterfront that had been divorced from the downtown by an interstate highway and suffered from poor industrial development and neglect. Today, Waterfront Park is a destination for tourists and local residents as a place to stroll, relax and enjoy outdoor festivals.
President and CEO of the American Architectural Foundation, Ron Bogle adds, "We are preparing for an era in which design will be at the top of the agenda for cities that want to compete and succeed. These are dynamic, innovative times, which only elevate the need for the institute."
For a hard or downloadable copy of the Mayors' Institute on City Design booklet, go to the Web site Publications section.
For more information on the National Endowment for the Arts, please contact the NEA Communications Office at 202-682-5570 or visit the web site at www.arts.gov.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency