In October 2021, Erie Arts & Culture commissioned a mural on the exterior of the former Wayne School, which is now home to the Erie Center for Arts and Technology, the United Way of Erie County, and several other service-based organizations. This mural, along with a trip to Flint, Michigan, where they created 200 murals in a two-year time span, encouraged Erie Arts & Culture to be more strategic in our approach to future mural initiatives. With that in mind, we approached United Way of Erie County to discuss an initiative through which we would strategically locate murals along identified Safer Walking Routes to Community Schools.
This has led to Erie Arts & Culture and the United Way to adopt a shared goal of raising funds that will support the creation of 50 new murals over two years. Using discretionary funds, financial contributions from Erie Insurance, and an ARP grant from the City of Erie, Erie Arts & Culture has secured the necessary funds to execute Phase 1 of the project. Phase 1 will commence in the summer of 2022 and will include 10 murals along the Safer Walking Route, two per each of the five community schools.
The artwork created will reflect the aspirations and identities of neighborhood residents. We are committed to an inclusive and transparent selection processes for artists and assistants – including prioritizing hiring artists from within the neighborhoods where the murals will be installed and extending opportunities to artists who have historically been under-resourced. Additionally, our approach will include a teen workforce development component that is inspired by organizations such as Juxtaposition Arts (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Groundswell (Brooklyn, New York), and Artists for Humanities (Boston, Massachusetts).
The total development goal for the 50 murals is $1,000,000. Half of that amount will go towards paying the artists and youth involved in the initiative. Additionally, $200,000 is budgeted for materials and supplies, which will be purchased through Sherwin-Williams Commercial Paint Store located at the intersection of West 18th and Peach Streets. So in addition to helping positively shape the visual landscape within the urban core, we see this project as an economic generator for the City of Erie and Erie County.
The photos used in this article are from Flint, Michigan.