Downtown Ashland Bench Project

Community Challenge Grant

We have been selected as a 2021 AARP Community Challenge Grantee!

The City of Ashland is thrilled to announce we have been selected to receive a 2021 AARP Community Challenge grant. We are one of only 244 grantees selected from across all 50 states, Washington D.C, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With this “quick-action” grant we will be installing 20 new benches in the downtown district that feature murals from local artists. “We are incredibly proud that AARP selected the City of Ashland to receive this grant,” stated Megan McBride, City of Ashland Planning & Development Director. “AARP is a nationwide leader on making neighborhoods, towns, and cities more livable for all residents and we are honored that they see the tangible value this project will bring to our community.” 

About the Community Challenge grant 

The Community Challenge grant funds innovative projects that inspire change in areas such as transportation, public spaces, housing, diversity and inclusion, civic engagement, coronavirus recovery and more. It’s all part of AARP’s nationwide work on livable communities, which supports the efforts of neighborhoods, towns, cities and counties across the country to become great places for all residents. AARP believes that communities should provide safe, walkable streets; affordable and accessible housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents to participate in community life. To learn more about the work being funded by the AARP Community Challenge across the nation–including all 244 granted projects this year, visit You can also view an interactive map of all Community Challenge projects and AARP’s livable communities work at

About the Project

Seeking local artists!

In cooperation with the Ashland Main Street Program, the City of Ashland is seeking proposals for designs that will be painted on new wooden, Victorian-style benches to be placed in the downtown district. These benches will be blank canvases for colorful art in downtown, and in the end will offer a great spot to relax, read, or enjoy a chat with a friend. Bench designs should follow the theme: “Find Yourself by the Water”, the same theme as the downtown mosaic trash containers. Artists/groups are free to interpret the theme in a way that reflects their individual artistic style and skill level, and their experience with the Ashland community. 

Artists will work on their benches over the Winter, with installation beginning in the summer of 2022.The goal of the project is to bring original art to ordinary public benches; making art a part of everyone’s daily life and making Downtown Ashland a more beautiful place to be.

If you're interested in working on a bench, check out this artist brief for more information on the project and the application materials.

Bench Sponsorship 

Are you interested in sponsoring a downtown bench to remember a loved one, celebrate a joyous occasion, or promote a business or organization? Consider sponsoring a downtown bench! Sponsorships can be purchased for $1,000.00 per bench. 

Check out this sponsorship form for more information.