Mini grants: art for vacant downtown New Orleans storefronts

The New Orleans’ Downtown Development District is offering grants to help owners of vacant business properties commission art to make their storefronts look attractive and discourage graffiti.

“We know that has an impact on the perception of safety and vitality of downtown,” said Richard McCall, interim president and CEO of the legislatively created business improvement district.

He said the number of street-level vacancies has nearly doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, from 33 to 63. Those still vacant from before the pandemic and those that have lost tenants during the pandemic all are eligible, he said.

The projects could be murals painted on plywood panels in front of the property or plastic cling-film applied to windows from inside, McCall said.

“We want it to reflect the uniqueness of New Orleans and the culture of New Orleans,” he said. They would have to be appropriate for all ages, nonpolitical and non-advertising, but would need to incorporate the district’s logo or messaging.

The projects are likely to cost $1,000 to $3,000, and grants will be paid after completion. With $50,000 available, the district expects to make about 25 grants, McCall said.

The district is taking applications from both current and prospective building owners and business tenants within the district’s boundaries.

The organization says the Arts Council of New Orleans will be working with it on approving plans.

An application form is available on the website.