Known as the “City of Murals,” Philadelphia is home to almost 4,000 murals that reach into neighborhoods and aim to connect communities. No permit or license is required to paint a mural, so long as the work does not serve as an advertisement.
Most of these artworks are the signature of the Mural Arts Program, which has been active in the city for more than 30 years.
Here’s a guide to applying for a mural through the Mural Arts Program.
How it works
Mural Arts opens its application cycle to the public twice a year and is free to apply.
Each year, the deadlines for mural applications fall on March 15 and Nov. 15. Applicants can continue to submit proposals each cycle if not contacted upon the original request. The program makes it crystal clear, there is no waiting list.
What to know
In order to submit an application, be prepared with the address of the proposed mural wall and the contact information of the property owner. Know if the wall is made of brick, cinder block or stucco.
The Mural Arts Program wants to get to know applicants and ensure research was done. In the application process, be prepared to discuss the history of the community, if neighbors are on board and the project’s significance to the area.
On their website, Mural Arts recommends considering the following questions when submitting a proposal:
- Have I talked to my neighbors and/or community groups about a mural?
- Have I identified a wall that faces traffic and does not peel, crack or have leaks?
- Have I tried to speak with the wall owner and/or obtain permission for a mural on that wall?
- Do I have a fabulous idea for the mural that will be meaningful for the whole community?
- Am I able to work with Mural Arts Staff to have at least three to five (3-5) meetings about the mural?
- Have I made a firm commitment to maintain the area around the mural with my neighbors?”
Donate a wall
In order to create art, the Mural Arts Program needs the space to do it. Walls can be donated by property owners as potential sites, by filling out this online form.
Donating a wall does not guarantee that it will be selected, but it will get on the list for inspection.
Want to get involved in your neighborhood?
In an effort to engage the community in the artistic process, Mural Arts will host community paint days where neighbors are welcome to paint on the canvas panels to be pasted on the wall as a part of the final product. The canvases are open to all ages and sketched out in a paint-by-number formula. Check the events page for an opportunity near you.
Are you the artist?
The Mural Arts Program reviews applications for muralists twice a year. For this year, materials (including a resume and samples of work) can be submitted until Aug. 30.
The application should be submitted online or delivered to the Lincoln Financial Mural Arts Center at the Thomas Eakins House, located at 1727 Mount Vernon St.
Not sure where to get started?
Mural Training Programs this fall will cover the social impact and design challenges of public art in engaged communities, as well as technical aspects of mural making like preparation, enlargement, execution and sealing.
The deadline for applications is Sept. 29, and classes take place each Wednesday, from 6-8:30 p.m., starting Oct. 25. The registration fee is $150.
– Photo and text by Brianna Spause.