Institute FAQ

Q: What is Mural Arts Institute?
A: Mural Arts Institute was established in 2017 in Philadelphia as an initiative of Mural Arts Philadelphia. It is dedicated to socially-engaged art, rooted in “social practice” — the creative processes developed by artists and arts organizations to address social, economic and environmental challenges. We bring community and art together in service to a larger movement that values equity, fairness and progress across all of society. Our approach is centered around connection: building networks, developing partnerships, and convening artists, community and partners to collaborate around participatory art. We offer the Mural Arts model to other change-oriented cities across the country to build the capacity of artists, arts organizations, cultural institutions, municipal governments and more with the goal of igniting change with public art.

Q: Why was Mural Arts Institute started?
A: For several years, officials and organizations in other cities had been reaching out to us for help figuring out public art projects of their own. We realized we could formalize the work we were doing outside of Philadelphia by setting up an initiative – the Institute – dedicated to helping other cities and organizations build capacity, grow their networks and make their own art-in-community connections to support the development of their own socially engaged public art programs.

Q: How is the Institute different from Mural Arts Philadelphia?
A: The Institute is an initiative of Mural Arts Philadelphia. Mural Arts Philadelphia is the “parent organization” of the Institute and runs several programs and initiatives – the Institute is one of them.

Q: Can anyone get involved in the Institute?
A. The Institute is a resource that is available to artists, arts organizations, community organizations and local governments that are seeking to create a public art program or public art piece.

Q: Do you have to be in Philadelphia to be involved with the Institute?
A. Not necessarily. While we are headquartered in Philadelphia and hold a number of programs, classes and symposia here, we also offer remote coaching and consulting, and can design specific learning experiences for folks visiting from out of town to participate in here, or for us to deliver in your city. We also run two Initiatives to help organizations in other select cities build their public art capacity- these run on a 2 to 3 year timeline and include an application process.

Q: How many projects does the Institute do each year?
A. The Institute does not produce socially engaged public art projects, but supports other individuals, communities or organizations to advance their own skills, vision or projects. We provide in depth support to five to ten clients each year, but also run public workshops for individuals.

Q: I am an artist seeking a grant to fund a public project I am working on. Does the Institute offer grants that would support projects like mine?
A. No, the Institute does not provide direct funding for projects. The institute provides resources to entities participating in certain initiatives to produce projects that serve as the platform for the longer-term learning experience.

Q: I am involved with a community organization that would like to increase the public art in its neighborhood. Can Mural Arts Institute help with that?
A. Please reach out to us with some more details such as your goals, needs, and budget for professional development or consulting, and we would be happy to provide you with some options for a tailored learning experience in response to your needs.

Q: What kind of work do you do with government?
A. We partner with municipal governments seeking to build their own public art programs or who are seeking creative public policy solutions to societal issues facing their communities. Socially engaged public art has the power to showcase problems in society and/or in specific communities and often offers new ways to think about those problems, from which larger policies can be derived. In Philadelphia, Mural Arts has partnered with a large array of city agencies to support and help shape a multitude of policies affecting Philadelphia residents and communities.

Q: Does the Institute help connect artists, arts organizations and community organizations with sponsors?
A. We have developed a very strong network of artists, organizations, community members, donors, government officials and more and we are happy to make suggestions for connections and offer advice to the entities and individuals with which we work. We do not connect entities directly with sponsorship dollars, however we can help steer entities to potential donors when appropriate.

Q: Does the Institute fundraise for artists or community organizations?
A. No, but we can include tips and help you strategize your approach to raising funds for your projects as part of a consultation experience.

Q: What kinds of community organizations does the Institute work with?
A. We work with any organization that serves its community by supporting public-private partnerships, directing needed resources, providing programming and services to its community members. Essentially, organizations whose mission is to make life better for its community members.

Q: Is Jane Golden involved in the Institute? As an artist, would I be able to work with her if I were involved in an Institute learning experience?
A. Jane Golden is a key advisor to the Institute’s work, and as such is involved in person from time to time in certain learning experiences, workshops, or consultations.


Q: Does the Institute offer art classes to non-artists?
A. No.

Q; Does the Institute offer programming for kids?
A. No.

Q: Does the Institute only work with murals or do you work with other types of public art?
A. No. We work with a number of types of art, with the prerequisite that the art be created for, with and by the community. Our focus has been within the realm of murals as they are the public art medium on which Mural Arts Philadelphia was established. However, murals are not just large scale paintings on the sides of buildings – they can be art on streets or sidewalks, repurposed and beautified scaffolding and more. We also explore collaborative temporary or permanent works with composers, video or sound artists, conceptual artists, designers, architects, and more. That is the beauty of art – it is limitless.

Q. What is Philadelphia’s public art policy?
A. We don’t develop public policy. Our focus is on creating art for, with and by the community.