Philadelphia Mural Arts Program Community Impact Assessment

Document Type

Research Report




This report represents a first attempt to assess the impact of the City of Philadelphia's mural arts program—initiated in 1984 under the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network—on the city’s neighborhoods. The need for an impact assessment grew out of the changing character of the Mural Arts Program (MAP) since its move in 1996 from the Office of the Mayor of Philadelphia to the Philadelphia Department of Recreation.

SIAP’s study, undertaken from 2000 to 2002, incorporated a variety of methods. The team used data on the location of murals to assess whether the density of murals was related to other characteristics of a neighborhood. The team also developed a detailed mural production database to examine the nature of community involvement in MAP's process. Finally, the team employed a method developed by Penn’s Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work to estimate the community contribution to mural production.

The report concludes with a set of organizational and programmatic recommendations intended to maximize the potential of the Philadelphia Department of Recreation Mural Arts Program to mobilize resources and build connections among the city's neighborhoods, its young people, and its artists.


The Ford Foundation awarded a business-planning grant to the Mural Arts Program in 1999 that provided support for the impact evaluation, which MAP launched in late summer 2000. The SIAP study involved a working partnership with core MAP staff over a two-year period.

SIAP also collaborated with University of Pennsylvania colleagues on the MAP study. The Program for the Study of Organized Religion and Social Work at Penn School of Social Work inspired development of the MAP community leveraging model. Penn's Cartographic Modeling Lab provided data from its Philadelphia Neighborhood Information System and worked with SIAP on comparative impact analyses of community murals.



Date Posted: 13 May 2017