Public art can be a powerful chamber ally in solving community challenges from education and workforce to health and crime prevention. Across the country many chambers are realizing the role public art can play within their communities.
Public art is defined as any work of art that has been planned and executed with the intention of being staged in a space that is accessible to all. To some, public art is the perfect background for their new profile picture, their favorite place in the park to eat lunch and even the place to pay their respects to a movement or event that happened in history. To community development professionals, public art is a tool to enhance a community’s well-being and empower community members. Public art can mean different things to different people, but no matter the meaning, it is a powerful form of expression that can influence a community.
Using public art to shape, build and differentiate a community is not a novel concept; however, its place in the realm of community development is gaining more traction and credibility by community development professionals. With over 400 registered artists, Long Beach, Ca., has already capitalized on the community development tool that is public art.
One way Long Beach has been able to facilitate the growth of public art is by hosting what Forbes included in its list of “The Best Urban Mural Festivals Around the Country.” POW! WOW! Long Beach is a week-long, city-wide event that takes place in the summer. The event brings art and culture to public spaces while beautifying the city of Long Beach and cultivating community pride. Beginning in 2015, the POW! WOW! Festival has created over 70 murals that are located throughout the city. By activating art, they are not only creating a beautiful community, but also raising property values and creating venues out of previously underutilized spaces.