The Office for Public Art launched the Artists Bridging Social Distance in the Public Realm initiative (ABSD) on March 30, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing into 2021 and beyond, this program supports artists at a time of critical need, when social distancing is causing widespread isolation and creative projects have been canceled or indefinitely postponed.
The program provides several rounds of support for artist projects that promote social connection while also following guidelines for public health and safety. Submissions for projects in all media and disciplines (including digital, analog, and event-based) were sought, but proposed projects had to be widely shareable, whether through digital and virtual platforms or other means. After selection, OPA worked closely with the selected artists in each round, assisting with project development, implementation strategies, and outreach plans.