Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Transforms Downtown Streetscapes


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The Philadelphia Mural Arts Program began in 1984 as part of a campaign to eradicate graffiti citywide. Since then, over 3,000 murals have been created; each has become a distinctive part of the city’s landscape. In Philadelphia, mural making provides a unique opportunity for community engagement. It fosters relationships among community members, schools, grassroots organizations, city agencies, and philanthropists.

Public art programs allow individuals to take action to beautify their own communities. Over the years, Philadelphia’s Mural Art Program has brought artists and community members together in a collaborative process that transforms public spaces and individual lives. A recent endeavor of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program is The Porch Light Initiative.

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The Porch Light Initiative is a three-year program that creates partnerships between health service providers, artists, community residents, and individuals receiving treatment for behavioral health challenges. Together these partnerships create public art that raises awareness for community health. One recent example of The Porch Light Initiative is The Color of Your Voice Mural completed in October 2012.

This mural represents the goals of The Porch Light Initiative, which are:

  • Bringing community members together to create public art projects which encourage community ownership and pride;
  • Using art as a tool to connect individuals with behavioral health challenges to each other, health service providers, and the community;
  • Illuminating the challenges faced by individuals with behavioral health issues.

This public art program, along with others, provides a creative tool for expressing community values. Next time you are in Philadelphia make sure to check out this mural and others. You can even take a tour!

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By Alex Riemondy at Global Site Plans: The Grid – A This Big City partner site. Images via muralarts