The Mural Arts Program, the anti-graffitti mural program that gave Philadelphia international recognition as the “City of Murals”, began working for the first time with art curators with the assistance of The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage‘s curator-in-residence program in 2013. The following year guest curator-in-residence Lucia Sanroman invited Cohabitation Strategies to work with Mural Arts for the Restore Spaces initiative on a community-based long term project. Playgrounds for Useful Knowledge was initiated in November 2014  supported by the The Pew Center for the Arts & Heritage.

The Mural Arts Program is the largest public art program in the United States. It unites artist and communitites through a collaborative process, using the tradition of mural-making, to create art that transforms public speces and peoples lives. This nationally-recognized program has produced over 3,000 murals and educated over 20,000 underserved and at-risk youth in neighborhoods throughout Philadelphia. Educational programs use an intensive curriculum that involves the production of murals as a dynamic means to engage youth and to teach transferable life and job skills such as taking personal responsibility, teamwork, and creative problem-solving. The Mural Arts Program also serves adult offenders in local prisons and rehabilitation centers, using the restorative power of art to break the cycle of crime and violence in our communities.

The Restored Spaces initiative integrates the activities of city agencies, community organizations, and residents while collectively transforming schools, recreation centers, and commercial corridors into models for sustainable revitalization. To date Restored Spaces has directly engaged more than 1,600 people at six sites in collaboration with a growing list of stakeholders.

Cohabitation Strategies’ members will take up residence in Philadelphia during the term of the project and, following a period of action-research, mapping and analysis of different neighborhoods, will set up a public neighborhood hub to co-produce  —with community members, guest curator-in-residence Lucia Sanroman and Restore Spaces‘ leaders— strategic actions, artistic platforms and frameworks to build the localized leadership and capacity required for future transformative urban interventions of the Restore Spaces initiative.  The project will conclude with a daylong symposium and a publication. For more information follow the project’s website.



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