City council attempt to get more opportunities for Mural Arts Philadelphia met with silence

Pat Loeb
February 23, 2019 - 4:00 am
City Hall, Philadelphia.

Holli Stephens/KYW Newsradio


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia's mural arts program would get an important new source of funding under a bill introduced into city council this week. The bill would allow Mural Arts Philadelphia to participate in another highly esteemed public art program. 

Philadelphia was the first U.S. city to require developers on certain projects to devote one percent of a building's total cost to an original, site-specific work of art. The Percent for Art is responsible for the clothes pin at 15th and Market streets, the broken button on University of Pennsylvania's campus and flying fish on the Delaware waterfront, among other works. 

But commissions have been restricted to individual or teams of artists. Councilman Bobby Henon's bill would open that up to organizations, like Mural Arts.

"They are adored throughout the city. With a lot of the construction going on and with rebuild and the cost for murals, I think it would be appropriate for them to compete for Percent for Art, especially in our playgrounds and rec centers," Henon said. 

Mural Arts Philadelphia director Jane Golden says she's grateful for the support, but the Office of Arts and Culture should have input. 

"Part of me feels like, 'Let's do everything we can on behalf of communities and artists in the city,' and the other part of me feels like I'm part of city government and this should be a team approach," Golden said.

Golden says she understands council members, anxious to get murals in their district, especially on city facilities, can be frustrated by the long waiting list. There are now about 2,000 projects in line.

City officials declined comment on the bill.