1. Murals can build or rebuild relationships between individuals or groups. Whether a neighbourhood association is choosing an artist's proposal, or they are all creating a community art piece together, that process ties each person involved more closely with their community, leading to greater respect for the area and for each other. In St. Lawrence, Toronto, a basketball court was destroyed during a drug bust, but the Toronto Police kicked in time and funds to help restore the court, and together with the community, created a vibrant mural that captured the spirit of peace and teamwork. You can find the full story here.
2. Murals can actually SAVE the city money. The city of Ottawa launched an incredible program in 2010 called Paint it Up, an ongoing project that engages homeless & marginalized youth to work with local artists to build murals all over the city. According to the Ottawa Citizen, city statistics show the number of tags removed annually from city property has consistently fallen since Paint It Up began in 2010.
By the way, the City of Hamilton budgets $250,000 annually for graffiti & tag clean-up. If one mural costs approx. $5,000, with that cash we could have 50 new murals each year! Not that simple, I know, but still. A girl can dream.
3. Creating murals can inspire a deep sense of belonging, and a feeling of great accomplishment. This is particularly important for groups who are "on the fringe" who really benefit from increased self-worth and the satisfaction that comes from completing a large, public project. One of the projects that we did last summer involved covering a small graffiti tag with a beautiful, 10 foot tile mosaic mural. This involved the work of 12 young artists throughout the summer, and after we had hung and celebrated their incredible work, this is what they reflected:
"I feel like I've contributed to the rejuvenation of the city. My grandkids will hear about this."
"It definitely has given me some sense of purpose to be able to put something like this together from scratch, and to see the final result - on one of the most commonly walked-on streets in Hamilton."
"As a group we have something to show the community. It proves that we can be successful and that we are making a difference."
For more information on how other cities are using public art in powerful ways:
Toronto's Mural Routes
Philadelphia's Mural Arts
Bogota, Colombia: A few graffiti artists
If you would like to donate to Art Form's ongoing Mural Project, please follow this Paypal link, and indicate "Art Forms murals" as the donation allocation.
*Note that the Social Planning and Research Council is our fiscal partner.