Philadelphia is renowned for boasting the largest collection of street art and murals in any city, worldwide.
While this is a beautiful sight to behold for any visitor to the historic former capital of the United States, the murals also provide opportunities to reform former illegal graffiti artists.
The Philadelphia Mural Arts Project is responsible for over 600 of the 2,800 murals that can be seen around the city, which was the first UNESCO World Heritage site on earth.
Although hip-hop music is based on the four core principles of hip-hop – breakdancing, DJing, emceeing, and graffiti – the city did not adopt all of the elements under the regime of Mayor Wilson Goode.
The Mural Arts Program’s founder Jane Golden, a Los Angeles transplant who came to Philadelphia in the 1980’s.
Jane helped the city create the organization to combat the rise of graffiti in Philadelphia, which is considered to be one of the birthplaces of the artform, and keep the aspiring artists out of jail.
The program really kicked off after Mayor Goode left office, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the city of Philadelphia, PA Council on the Arts, and the Ellis Gimbel Charitable Trust.
With the price being $10,000 to $15,000 per mural for supplies and artists’ commission, making the art can be a serious financial undertaking.
So the murals are officially subsidized by the city, which employs over 300 artists and has actually become the city’s largest employer of creatives.
“Having the long-term support from the city really guarantees our longevity” – Mural Arts Project founder Jane Golden
Utilizing mural arts has also been recognized as a leading way to increase the property value of some of the city’s most underprivileged neighborhoods.
One company has even rebranded their new condominium complex as the “Mural Lofts.”
Not only does the beautification of neighborhoods benefit them financially, but also the program has created education platforms for up-and-coming artists to continue learning.
Philadelphia adds street art to the long list of historical achievements for this legendary city.