Office of the Mayor

Honolulu awarded up to $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies for Public Art Grant

HONOLULU – Bloomberg Philanthropies announced today that the City and County of Honolulu are among eight winning cities of the Public Art Challenge, securing a generous grant of  up to $1 million. The Public Art Challenge initiative, launched in 2014, supports temporary public art projects that address various civic issues throughout the United States.

Over 150 cities from 40 U.S. states applied, tackling civic issues, including urban revitalization, environmental sustainability, and equity. 

The City and County of Honolulu project, “Wahi Pana” (Storied Places), will present a series of multimedia art installations on O‘ahu that connect key tourist destinations with their moʻolelo (stories). Native Hawaiian and Hawaiʻi-based artists will be commissioned to collaborate with cultural experts to research and create site-specific artworks highlighting the complex histories of often overlooked cultural and historical sites affected by over-tourism. By restoring and featuring indigenous histories through contemporary cultural expression, “Wahi Pana” seeks to shift the mindset of visitors and residents alike and encourages everyone to engage with heightened cultural awareness.

“The City and County of Honolulu is most honored and thrilled to accept this prestigious award from Bloomberg Philanthropies,” said Mayor Rick Blangiardi. “This ambitious, creative, and transformative project will help to mitigate the impacts of over-tourism, including environmental degradation and cultural insensitivity. These installations will encourage reflection and inspire positive change in how we approach the future of tourism.”

This project, spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts (MOCA), will celebrate O‘ahu’s creative community while catalyzing public-private collaborations to mitigate the impacts of tourism. MOCA will partner with City departments, art agencies, private businesses, the hospitality industry, individual artists, and cultural practitioners to promote social change in our tourism sector by embracing O‘ahu’s thriving arts and culture community.

“The Wahi Pana initiative provides us with an incredible opportunity to share Honolulu’s historical mo‘olelo with visitors and locals, in such a unique and captivating way,” added Ka‘ili Trask O’Connell, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Culture and the Arts. “Our MOCA team is excited to collaborate with our culture and arts community to bring these stories to life through our Hawaii-based artists’ vision and creativity!”

The City and County of Honolulu is one of just eight winners from more than 150 project proposals received. The project will be developed over the next two years.

Video featuring soundbites with mayors from winning cities:

Visit to learn more about the Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge, and stay tuned for updates as Honolulu’s project comes to life.


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