Apr 6, 2016

Playgrounds For Useful Knowledge Nominated for National Award

by: Mural Arts Staff

We’re excited to announce that Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge has been selected as one of eight finalists for the Robert E. Gard Award, presented by Americans for the Arts. In its inaugural year, the Robert E. Gard award celebrates exemplary work at the intersection of the arts and community life and is named in honor of one the founding fathers of the local arts movement.

The Playgrounds team is honored to be recognized alongside other extraordinary artists, organizations, and communities positioning art at the nexus of community development across the United States.

What can you do? 

Spread the word about Playgrounds! Start by learning more about equitable and sustainable methods for community revitalization and then encourage Americans for the Arts members to cast their votes for the Gard Award. Voting closes on May 1, 2016 and is restricted to members of Americans for the Arts. You must login to your account at www.americansforthearts.org to vote.

Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Work Continues 

A core group of community members and local organizations—active both during and well before Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge—continue to work toward a future that will position the neighborhood as a pivotal example of revitalization without displacement.

Mural Arts and partners involved with the project have committed additional time and resources toward the advancement of specific priorities defined by community members during Playgrounds—like tackling South Philadelphia’s trash problem, which is so significant that one new resident described the neighborhood as more trash-strewn than the refugee camp he lived in before coming to the States.

Through neighborhood-wide initiatives engaging local residents and youth, Trash Academy will seek to demystify Philadelphia’s pervasive trash issues and invite broad involvement in testing and sharing grassroots solutions.

Action 1. Photo by Steve Weinik.

The Margins of Muralism 

As the fluidity of social and artistic practices increases, Mural Arts has responded with projects of social value that do not always result in tangible end products. Playgrounds falls into a growing collection of Mural Arts projects that push the boundaries of conventional muralism to uplift creative—and, in some cases, avant-garde—solutions as powerful alternatives to traditional community revitalization strategies.

Mural Arts’ increasing use of non-traditional mediums and methods broadens our ability to respond to the specific interests and talents of Philadelphia’s many communities and permits us to work in spaces ill-suited for muralism.

Other Mural Arts projects that push out on this frontier of our work are:

A Desert Home Companion


Open Source

Neighborhood Time Exchange

Southeast by Southeast


What We Sow/The Meal

We’re incredibly grateful to the project partners and funders who helped make Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge a reality. Project partners include: Cohabitation Strategies, Lucía Sanromán, Mural Arts’ Environmental Justice Initiative, Mifflin Square Alliance Festival Coalition, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson, Beth Uzwiak, Philadelphia Theatre of the Oppressed, LandHealth Institute, Heidi Chisholm, Larissa Begault, Mariana Bomtempo, Julia Borowicz, Rachael Griffith, Troy Andrew Hallisey, Lee Wolf.

Major support for Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge has been provided by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage. The Environmental Justice Initiative is made possible by visionary support from PTS Foundation. Additional support to Environmental Justice is provided by City of Philadelphia Department of Human Services, FAO Schwarz Family Foundation, Fondation d’entreprise Hermés, and Surdna Foundation.

Last updated: Jun 3, 2020

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