The People’s Budget

Re-Envisioning the City Budget

About the Project 

Calls to reallocate resources from programs like policing, debt servicing, and fossil fuels towards enhancing social services, financial safety nets, and renewable energy are resonating in cities across the United States. Services that empower, rather than undermine, those most affected by crime, poverty, and public health challenges unite communities by providing resources rather than pitting them against each other in a struggle for limited support. Black, Brown, and immigrant communities disproportionately confront a harsh reality marked by insufficient funding, systemic injustices, and adverse environmental conditions that threaten their survival. While budgets are complex financial documents, they are also mission statements for the city – a real-world accounting of officials’ priorities. Organizations that advocate for a just budget recognize that building a multi-issue and multi-racial coalition is necessary for providing for all Philadelphians.

Over the last two years, Mural Arts Philadelphia has produced two public art projects about the city budget, led by artist Phoebe Bachman. These projects aim to increase public awareness through popular education on the city’s budget process and offer a platform for residents to share what the city should fund. Artistic outcomes included quilts handmade by residents across the city depicting budget priorities, postcards to city council members, a People’s Budget Festival, and a series of People’s Budget posters wheat-pasted across the city. In 2024, we will launch neighborhood workshops and a People’s Budget Hearing, and the People’s Budget Office will be located at LOVE Park.


City of Philadelphia


City of Philadelphia Budget Office, Social Justice Sewing Academy, Philadelphia Modern Quilt Guild