There are some great new sites like Mural Farm that give you an online tour of the many murals produced by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. But even better is going on a bike mural tour, you can meet the artists or even help paint a mural. This is a great example of how murals can help familiarize people with neighborhoods and businesses, spurring on local economic recovery. Clearly just the production of a mural has an economic ripple effect. From paints, scaffolding, brushes, lunches to pay for assistants and artists. Anyone who has worked on a mural can testify to the amount of physical labor - in some cases thousands of hours - it takes to complete a mural. These hours are real work, and as valid as building a straw bail house, rooftop garden, growing local food, or installing solar panels. At this very second artists stand "paintbrush ready" to help revitalize our economy.
Canada is a hotbed of mural activity, and community arts in general. Of the many amazing sites and stories featuring new murals in Canada are the Global Arts and Tourism and Chemainus Festival of Murals sites. I like these sites because they connect mural making to economic revival. The Chemainus Festival of Murals site describes their success:
There are many other cities large and small, such as Crescent City California, that offer mural tours and have integrated murals into their overall economic development strategies. I would argue for more murals that practice civic engagement at every level of the conception, design and production of the work if we want to get the full economic and social benefits.
It’s something to think about in these most curious of times, when innovation and creativity are most in need and least supported. Imagine if instead of bailing out zombie banks we invested in cultural creatives and innovators. It would cost much less, produce more and generate long term prosperity, beauty, health and happiness.