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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 https://www.downtowntulsaok.com/downtownmurals
Additional information about the Strategic Plan for a Downtown Management Organization can be found