Can public art promote public health? This is the central question addressed in this four-year evaluation of the Porch Light Program, a collaborative endeavor of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and the Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS). Porch Light seeks to create public murals that transform neighborhoods and promote the health of neighborhood residents and individuals who help create the mural. This collaboration involves a variety of stakeholders, including behavioral health consumers, artists, family members, service providers, neighborhood residents, and the leadership and staff from two city departments.
What is the Porch Light Program?
A porch light symbolizes warmth and security. It is an invitation to a safe space sheltered from the most challenging elements; a space where one can truly be well. In light of recent national tragedies, the need is greater than ever to work together in creating safe and inviting spaces in our own communities. The City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) recognize this need and are proud to present The Porch Light Program – a groundbreaking public art approach to achieving health and wellness in Philadelphia. Porch Light works closely with communities to uplift public art as an expression of community resilience and a vehicle of personal and community healing. We create murals that focus specifically on mental health and substance use, as well as other issues that affect our mental health including faith and spirituality, homelessness, trauma, immigration, war and community safety and tensions.
A New Approach: Public Art in Public Health
The Porch Light Program builds a team of artists, service providers, program participants, community members, and city-wide stakeholders to collaborate on a transformative public art project. The program strives to catalyze positive changes in the community, improve the physical environment, create opportunities for social connectedness, develop skills to enhance resilience and recovery, promote community and social inclusion, shed light on challenges faced by those with behavioral health issues, reduce stigma, and encourage empathy.
Learn more about the Porch Light Program http://www.muralarts.org/programs/porch-light