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In a Distressed Philadelphia Neighborhood, Art Brings Hope
While many of the problems (drug dealing, violence) that afflict the neighborhood have not gone away entirely, the recent mural project, which ended in January of this year, has brought hope, new residents, and the rumblings of redevelopment to the area.
Led by the Mural Arts Program, the largest public art program in the United States, the project in Mantua featured the brightly colored painting of houses in the neighborhood, the clean-up of trash-covered lots, and the conversion of a former drug house into an "art house".
During the project, "Dozens of youths worked alongside the artists and were linked to social services, with some moving from shelters into permanent housing. The art house also served as an information hub for housing, legal aid, health care, and employment," writes Gregory.
The project galvanized the local neighborhood, changing its image both to outsiders and to itself. "Such efforts create 'a subtle shift,' said Jane Golden, executive director of the Mural Arts Program, 'as people start really seeing their neighborhood not as a forgotten place. They talk about it in terms of its potential.'"