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Downtown Tulsa Temporary Public Art Project Recognized with National Award

Downtown Tulsa, OK (October 27, 2021) - At its national conference in Tampa, Fl last week, the International Downtown Association recognized Downtown Tulsa temporary public art effort Project Hope Unity Compassion with the Downtown Achievement Award of Excellence for its resourceful approaches related to public art and place enhancement efforts. Project Hope Unity Compassion was implemented by the Tulsa Downtown Coordinating Council in June 2020 through January 2021 prior to the transition of staff and management efforts to the Downtown Tulsa Partnership. The Award of Excellence acknowledges an excellent response to an urban place management challenge, demonstrating application of industry knowledge and exceeding jury criteria.

Project Hope Unity Compassion was among 24 qualified entries in the category of Public Space Management and Operations which IDA identifies as one of the seven professional urban place management practice areas. A jury of peer professionals reviewed, deliberated, and evaluated all entries in the 2021 Downtown Achievement Awards. This category features unique organizational approaches and projects in the areas of clean, safe and hospitality, placemaking and activation and facilities management. The award was accepted by Downtown Tulsa Partnership.

In June 2020, Downtown Tulsa business owners proactively took steps to secure their storefronts in anticipation of large crowds following the announcement of a presidential campaign rally. These boarded up windows provided an opportunity to show a broad national audience the core values of Downtown Tulsa and the community’s resilience. More than 300 artists responded to a last-minute call for art and within hours commissioned artists began painting storefronts thanks to permission from businesses and the generosity of an anonymous donor. Within two days, more than a dozen artist and artist teams were mobilized to paint murals and messages inspiring hope, unity, and compassion across Downtown during incredibly tense time in our nation.

“Throughout history, downtowns and town squares have served as the foundation of society’s freedom of expression and discourse, and this effort sought to highlight the resilience of Downtown and our community during an historic event,” said Brian Kurtz, President and CEO of Downtown Tulsa Partnership and former executive director of Downtown Coordinating Council. “On behalf of Downtown Tulsa Partnership board and stakeholders, I express immense gratitude to our partner organizations and artists who made this effort possible in such a short timeline, and to our peer jurors around the nation for recognizing the importance of public art in community conversations.”

Following the campaign events and as Downtown reopened, each storefront was carefully deconstructed and stored until they could be reassembled for an exhibition at Living Arts in January 2021. The original works and photographs of each piece in their original locations were auctioned off with proceeds benefiting the Historic Greenwood District Main Street program. Project muralists were also featured in the PBS American Portrait series.

“Downtown Tulsa has demonstrated skillful application of urban place management principles with Project Hope Unity Compassion,” said David Downey, IDA President and CEO. “This public realm enhancement effort should serve as a framework to all member communities within IDA.”

Additionally at the national conference, the Strategic Plan for a Downtown Tulsa Management Organization endorsed in late 2020 was regarded by IDA as an industry best practice. The planning and community engagement process led to the incorporation of Downtown Tulsa Partnership and the new public-private partnership that exists today with the City of Tulsa.

Washington, DC-based IDA is the premier organization for urban place professionals who are shaping and activating dynamic city center districts. Downtown Tulsa Partnership is the urban place management organization representing the interests of property owners in Downtown Tulsa.

Additional information about Project Hope Unity Compassion can be found at

Additional information about the Strategic Plan for a Downtown Management Organization can be found at