Oct 11, 2023

Mural Arts & Philly Experiences: Reimagining City Tours Together

by: Chad Eric Smith

A Partnership Built on Empathy, Inclusion, and Artistic Expression

Brands often seek partnerships as a strategic move to amplify their reach and mutually benefit from each other’s strengths. As Senior Director of Communications and Brand Management at Mural Arts Philadelphia, the nation’s preeminent public art program, I view partnerships as a way to leverage shared values. In that spirit, I couldn’t be prouder to announce our collaboration with Philly Experiences, the brainchild of Christian “Chrissy” Watts, a “Norf” Philly-born and bred visionary. Our organizations are partnering to bring you immersive cultural experiences through tours that weave the narrative of art, culture, history, and community resilience.

Meet Chrissy Watts: A Guiding Light in Philly

Before we delve into the collaborative experiences, let’s talk about the woman behind Philly Experiences. Chrissy is not just a tour guide; she’s a cultural educator who uses her deep-rooted understanding of the city’s history and Black culture to showcase authentic Philadelphia. After stints as a freelance photographer and a nanny, a trip to Barbados made her realize the richness of genuine cultural engagement and understanding.

Chrissy, an entrepreneur and self-described “hood advocate,” founded Philly Experiences in 2018 to bring locals and tourists closer to the heart of Philly – its communities. Through her unique experiences, she seeks to redirect part of the tourism revenue back to the neighborhoods that form the city’s essence. The underlying vision resonates with the values Mural Arts holds dear: community engagement, authentic representation, and social justice.

Upcoming Mural Tours in Partnership with Mural Arts

In addition to our regularly scheduled mural tours, we are ecstatic to roll out the following special tours as part of this partnership:

Black Be Beautiful Mural Tour | 2 Hours 

Thursday, October 12th & 26th @ 11 am, and Tuesday, November 7th @ 11 am | 1100 Cecil B. Moore Avenue

Discover the vibrant heart of Philadelphia’s Black culture, art, and hidden treasures not spotlighted on conventional tours. The Black Be Beautiful Mural Tour offers an Instagram-worthy and intellectually enriching walking journey curated to immerse you in the local Black community. Your host, Chrissy, will guide you through an authentic exploration of a neighborhood rich in history and influence. Engage deeply with the community as you gain invaluable insights into the local heritage shaping the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection. Get Tickets! (Use Promo Code “MURALARTS23”)

Afrobeats + Heal | 90 Minutes 

Thursday, October 19th @ 10 am (Rain date: Wednesday, October 25th @ 10 am) | Vernon Park (Germantown)

Explore the transformative power of nature while forging meaningful connections with community members. Seamlessly blending the invigorating rhythms of Afrobeats music with carefully curated mindfulness techniques, this event is crafted through a trauma-sensitive lens to create an environment that prioritizes emotional well-being. By acknowledging the potential impact of past traumas, Philly Experiences aims to cultivate a sanctuary where you can safely embark on your healing journey. Get Tickets! (Use Promo Code “MURALARTS23”)

Uptown Soul + Food Tour | 4 Hours 

Saturday, October 28th @ 2 pm | 5147 Germantown Avenue

Prepare to don your most stylish yet comfortable attire and embark on a culinary and cultural odyssey through Germantown, a vibrant neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia. From awe-inspiring murals to delicious soul food, this immersive 4-hour experience showcases the richness of Black Philadelphia through a curated blend of local businesses, historical landmarks, and irresistible desserts. Expect nothing less than a multifaceted and delectable journey into the heart of this unique community. Get Tickets! (Use Promo Code “MURALARTS23”)

We Still Here © 2021 City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program / Gaia, Jetsonorama, & Ursula Rucker, 22 Maplewood Mall. Photo by Steve Weinik.

More Than Just Tours

While Chrissy aims for fun and education, there’s an unwavering focus on economic impact. Redirecting even a fraction toward marginalized communities could be transformative in a city that garnered $5.2 billion in visitor spending in 2021 alone (1). It’s not just about seeing art and culture but investing in it. Mural Arts’ fiscal support of the Philly Experiences tours mentioned above is a testament to that commitment.

Mural Mile walking tour, April 2, 2019. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Value of Authentic Narratives

What sets this partnership apart is the emphasis on real stories told by people who live them. In an article from the Germantown Info Hub,  Chrissy stated, “I don’t think anyone else can tell Black stories like Black people.” In a world where stories get appropriated and twisted all the time, perhaps with increasing fervor, this collaboration is a testimony to authenticity and narrative justice.

A Rave of Reviews

With over 250 five-star reviews, Philly Experiences has touched the lives of cultural anthropologists, history geeks, and everyday tourists. As we build upon this collaboration, we are enthusiastic about amplifying Chrissy’s invaluable insights. Once you meet Chrissy, I promise you will understand why we wanted to partner with her.

This Mural Arts Month, our partnership with Philly Experiences celebrates the interconnectedness of art, culture, and community advocacy.

If this resonates with you as much as it does with us, we invite you to be part of this transformative journey. Book your tour today via Philly Experiences and experience Philadelphia like never before.

After all, as Chrissy beautifully puts it, “I am here still nannying in a different way than I realized… I’m here welcoming all these adult children and families into Philly Experiences to understand that I got us. But with the growth of this, it shows we got us.”

To learn more about Philly Experiences, visit phillyexperiences.com and follow on Instagram @phillyexperiences.

Last updated: Oct 10, 2023

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