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Mural Arts receives $200,000 grant from Citizens Bank Foundation for How We Fish

Two-year initiative seeks citywide input in discussing work force development, history and future needs

PHILADELPHIA (July 7, 2011) The Citizens Bank Foundation today announced a $200,000 grant to the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program to establish a two-year project called How We Fish. The initiative will start with a work force development summit, continue with a series of community forums throughout 2011 and 2012, and end with the installation of a new mural that will celebrate work, its Philadelphia history, meaning and value.

How We Fish is designed to serve as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue about work force development and job creation for Philadelphia’s citizens, workers, the unemployed, and business and community leaders. The innovative initiative will examine economic development and job creation. 

The initiative’s name reflects the saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

“Philadelphia’s strength always has centered around its work force – at one point in our history, we were known as the ‘workshop of the world’,” said Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “Times have changed, but our economy still requires an educated, trained work force. I would like to thank the Citizens Bank Foundation for its support of this initiative and The Mural Arts Program for being so instrumental in promoting and hosting work force development initiatives for young people, ex-offenders and other vulnerable populations.”

In conjunction with Mayor Nutter, the Citizens Bank Foundation and the Mural Arts Program held a news conference to release an overview of the project which will include not only a new mural but a landmark work force and economic development summit that will feature leaders in labor and economic growth. During the event, a symbolic fishing net was cast, with participants attaching their ideas for why work is important to an individual and to the community.

“The Citizens Bank Foundation believes in this project because it gets to the heart of what we need in Philadelphia – a vibrant work force,” said Daniel K. Fitzpatrick, Citizens Bank President & CEO for Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. “We are grateful to be partnering with the Mural Arts Program because we believe How We Fish is an imaginative, hands-on project that will engage Philadelphia’s residents, governmental, business and community leaders in discussion about work and its role in our lives.”    

How We Fish will serve as a catalyst for conversation and action about the importance of work force development and how Philadelphia redefines itself as the workplace of the world. “The Mural Arts Program is an ongoing success in large part because of community involvement,” said Executive Director Jane Golden. “This initiative, in partnership with the Citizens Bank Foundation, really typifies what we’re all about – strengthening the community with the full involvement of the public. We’re all sharing in the riches of beautiful artwork and community spirit.”

Community forums will be held in neighborhoods throughout the city. The public will be invited to participate in a professionally facilitated dialogue around their experiences as workers, job seekers and Philadelphians. The forums will shape the imagery and themes to be included in the mural design. Employment Resource Fairs will also be held with representatives from project partners who provide guidance on how to prepare for and seek employment, including District 1199C Training and Upgrading Fund, JEVS Human Services, Peoples Emergency Center, Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, Philadelphia Workforce Development Corp, and Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.

In June, a call for proposals was announced to begin the process of selecting the artist or artist teams that will be responsible for engaging the community in all phases of the mural-making process, from design through execution. (The proposal can be downloaded on the Mural Arts Program website here: http://muralarts.org/about/jobs-artist-opportunities. The deadline is July 15, 2011). Mural Arts employs more than 300 artists each year as muralists, assistants and instructors, further supporting the local creative economy. This project will provide employment and a high-profile opportunity to showcase Philadelphia’s talent.

The mural will be painted on parachute cloth material and has the potential to involve hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals who will participate in the mural-making process. Community painting workshops will be held over the spring of 2012 so that the public can participate in the mural-making process. The mural will be installed over an existing mural at 125 N. 8th St., at the intersection of 8th and Cherry Streets. It is expected to be installed in the summer of 2012.

About the Citizens Bank Foundation
Citizens Bank Foundation is a subsidiary of the Citizens Charitable Foundation, which is a charitable contributions vehicle of Citizens Financial Group, Inc., RBS Citizens, N.A. and Citizens Bank of Pennsylvania. The foundation’s support is focused on housing, community development and basic human needs.

About the Mural Arts Program
The Mural Arts Program is the nation’s largest mural program.  Since 1984, the Mural Arts Program has created over 3,500 murals and works of public art, earning Philadelphia international recognition as the “City of Murals.” The Mural Arts Program engages over 100 communities each year in the transformation of neighborhoods through the mural-making process, while award-winning, free art education programs serve nearly 2,000 youths at sites throughout the city and at-risk teens through education outreach programs.  The Mural Arts Program also serves adult offenders in local prisons and rehabilitation centers, using the restorative power of art to break the cycle of crime and violence in our communities. Each year, nearly 20,000 residents and visitors tour the Mural Arts Program’s outdoor art gallery, which has become part of Philadelphia’s civic landscape and a source of pride and inspiration. For further information, call (215) 685-0750 or visit www.muralarts.org.