Arts in the Alley aims to revitalize inner-city and downtown neighborhoods by cleaning up and revitalizing alleys and streets that are currently in disarray, making them into safer places for residents, schools, and businesses and transform the alleys into a bright, outdoor mural gallery.
After getting all the appropriate permits and permissions, during Arts in the Alley one or two alleys in a downtown or inner-city neighborhood are cleaned up (trash removal, weeding, removing dangerous items like broken glass and needles, cleaning up graffiti) on a Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday the alleys are transformed into a brighter and better place through painting murals. Also on Sunday, an arts and music festival is held in the alleys while the murals are being painted. Each alley will have between 5-15 murals, and at least one "Children's Mural" where any kid, any age can help create a mural designed especially for them. All the work – designing murals, performing music, cleanup work, and painting murals – is done by volunteers, with an emphasis on artists and students from both the neighborhood and the rest of the city collaborating throughout the project and ultimately in each other’s neighborhoods.
Arts in the Alley then works with community organizations to help maintain the improved alleyways. The rejuvenated alleys help create safer neighborhoods, a more cheerful living, working, and playing environment, and the concept of "art in the streets" as well as building a sense of community and providing an opportunity for local residents to develop a greater sense of ownership.
Community Ownership: Arts in the Alley uses the act of cleaning and decorating a neglected alley to bring local residents and businesses together for long term care of their neighborhood. The event itself is intended as just the beginning of a new partnership between the city, individuals and groups that may meet for the first time that weekend. Once the community bonds over these kinds of efforts to maintain and improve their streets, the sense of ownership grows and fosters an activist approach to maintaining the city streets.
Investment: Outside of city neighborhoods, the perception is often that there is no viable business case for investing. But by telling the story of Arts in the Alley, groups see that there is a future in living and working in the city. Rather than just relying on government dollars, this opens the door for private investment.
Families & Children: Most neglected areas of the city do not have an outlet for children to safely play and express themselves. Arts in the Alley creates a place where families can join with others and make a difference right where they live. This is a unique approach, since it requires local businesses and institutions to allow painting on their walls, which remains for years after. It also allows many kinds of talents to be used, so most anyone who volunteers can make a meaningful contribution, from decorating, supporting volunteers, cleaning and even providing music.
Civic Duty: As mentioned above, many residents and groups don't feel they can take a hand in improving their own streets, but this shows that they can partner with the city to make positive changes. Rather than simply asking for someone to fix a problem, everyone from kids to company CEOs step up and join with police and city crews for this one time. That lays the groundwork for relationships to develop, which in turn open dialogue between these separate, but concerned people.