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Design Proposals Requested for 125th Street Banners
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Design Proposals Requested for 125th Street Banners
March 31, 2010

The BID ON CULTURE Project, a partnership of the 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) and the HARLEM Arts Alliance (HAA), is requesting design proposals for street banners which will be displayed along 125th Street beginning June 2010 as part of Black Music Month, in celebration of Harlem’s contribution to the history and development of music in America.

The Request for Design Proposal is open to professional visual artists at least 21 years of age, not matriculated in an educational institution, with an interest in Harlem. Special consideration will be given to artists currently living and working in Harlem. The complete RFP can be downloaded from and The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 30, 2010 at 5:00pm via email to For more information contact Michael Unthank, Executive Director, HAA, at (347) 735 4280.

Enhancing the streetscape of 125th Street through the BID ON CULTURE project involves 19 banners to be hung from street light poles along 125th Street from Morningside Avenue to 5th Avenue.  A total of 5 designs will be selected. Artist design submissions should effectively reflect Harlem as a center for musical expression and innovation. Submissions can depict well known individuals, venues and/or significant events or issues that reflect this general theme.  Designs may reflect varied musical genres, and can be cast in a historical or contemporary context.

Barbara Askins, CEO, 125th Street BID states, "Harlem’s cultural and economic landscape continues to be re-shaped by new investments, new residents, new businesses, new creative initiatives by performing and visual artists, and a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to this historic community.  At the BID we recognize the importance of arts and culture to Harlem’s continued economic vitality.  In Harlem supporting the arts is just good business.” 

Voza Rivers, HAA’s chairman, agrees, "Harlem’s reputation as a world-renowned cultural center is unparalleled and its mystique has been a magnet for both artists and audiences for decades.  125th Street has long been known as the social, cultural, and economic backbone of Harlem. Our new partnership will help to solidify 125th Street as Harlem’s primary cultural district.”

BID ON CULTURE, which began in 2009, is a campaign to help build a community-based vision of Harlem’s heritage, its role as a vibrant cultural center, and to promote the continued revitalization of 125th Street as the commercial and artistic heart of Harlem.  In 2009, the first BID ON CULTURE banners were displayed as a Women’s History Month tribute and featured the artists Andrea Arroyo, Laura Gadson, Wilhelmina Obatola Grant, Sharon Lewis, and Shimoda.

The important role played by arts and culture in urban revitalization is well established, and is documented in the study, Creating a Cultural Destination, commissioned by the 125th Street BID in 2007, and available online at

The 125th Street Business Improvement District (BID) A non-profit organization funded primarily from an additional tax assessment collected from the property owners within the defined boundaries.  Organized in compliance with state and city laws; the property and business owners determine the services and programs needed for the district.  The BID will utilize the competition to bring visibility to its streetscape improvement efforts and to enliven the community’s central business district.

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