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RTA announces public arts partnership


New Orleans – Today, the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority announced its public arts partnership with Ashe' Cultural Arts Center and Studio Be. Through the partnership the RTA and its partners collaborated on a public art bus which was unveiled today at the agency's Canal Street headquarters.  The 40-foot fully wrapped bus features art designed by Studio Be's Brandon "B. Mike" Odum, who’s inspiration was a young, local aspiring artist, Dontay Allen.  The art bus was financed through a private donation to the Ashe' Cultural Arts Center.    

Art Bus

As the RTA transitions to full local control as the agency brings the operations and maintenance functions in-house, the RTA is also taking steps to expand its community partnerships that contribute positively to the fabric of society.  The fully wrapped art bus will be assigned to bus routes that serve youth initially and will rotate to routes throughout the city for up to one year.   

"By investing community in art partnerships that leverage the flourishing local arts community, the RTA is positioned to bring public art that projects positive imagery, directly to our riders in a manner that is accessible to all", said Flozell Daniels, Jr., Chair, RTA Board of Commissioners. "Representation matters and the RTA Board is proud to lead this innovative partnership that allows local youth to see themselves through this exceptional piece of public transit art. We are grateful to local artists for bringing to life our shared aspirations of mobility, opportunity, joy and freedom. Hopefully, there are many other possibilities for further collaboration." 

“When RTA speaks of providing safe, reliable, and equitable transit services that meaning is intended for all riders, not just those getting to work but also those also getting to school and back,” said Alex Z. Wiggins, RTA CEO. “In a city like New Orleans where art speaks to the soul of the community, partnerships like these highlight the agency’s renewed commitment to our riders and the communities we serve.” 

“I believe art has the power and responsibility to be a change agent,” said Brandan “B. Mike” Odums, Visual Artist, Studio BE. “I try to be as conscious as possible when creating because where art is seen best reflects who we are as a community and its possibilities. Art helps us to change the way we see each other and ultimately the way we see ourselves.” 

“Transportation is about more than just getting from one place to another, but it's about how you get there. Ashé Cultural Arts Center is excited to partner with the Regional Transit Authority and Studio BE to create a public transit experience that delivers service with dignity, celebrates community identity, and honors the contributions of our most relied upon, yet least rewarded residents,” said Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, Chief Equity Officer, Ashe’ Cultural Arts Center.  

Ashe Cultural Arts Center is a community arts program with innovative programming is designed to utilize culture in fostering human development and civic engagement. We maintain 5,000 square feet of gallery space, creating and preserving opportunities for the curation, exhibition, and commission of fine, folk, and fine-folk art of the African Diaspora. Producing over 350 music, theater, dance, spoken word, drum circles, and multi-disciplinary events a year, Ashé believes in art as paradigm shifting call to action.  As ecosystem builders, we host several local and national indie film series and symposiums and are currently developing alternative formats for the dissemination of our creative presentations.   

Art Bus

Studio BE is the brainchild of Brandan “B. Mike” Odums, a visual known for his poetic and passionate pieces surrounding political activism depicting brightly colored political figures, contemporary creatives, and everyday people. Odums’ visual artwork is prominent throughout New Orleans and most notably his series of spray-painted murals in the Florida Housing Development in the Lower Ninth Ward aptly named #ProjectBe. B. Mike went on to create Exhibit Be, a public art exhibition housed in the dilapidated apartment complex on New Orleans’ West Bank. Studio Be, the final part of the Be Trilogy, is an art studio featuring the work of Odums and other local artists. 



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