Mural Art is a form of street art that uses its spatial and social surroundings to derive its meaning and messages. This art form does not have a goal to produce works that are meaningful by themselves. They rather focus on altering physical environments in which they are created, and by doing so, produce an effect within the minds of people and communities that are part of these environments through social messages they depict. Also, in many cases the art form is easily linked to graffiti culture(s), by itself a product of urban cultures since the second half of the 20th century, usually created through unsanctioned processes, as well as ‘tagging’: the social messaging activities of gangs that, in many cases, evoke negative connotations to their surroundings.

But Murals are able to use the abilities for social messaging on quite opposite manners as well. When facilitated properly, these works are able to positively capture and express feelings, stories and histories of people, local communities and surroundings (e.g. districts and buildings), becoming a powerful tool to bind peoples within and among communities. Mural Artists, having the right artistic skills to nourish and reflect on social inputs of local communities, can use their skills to create works by co-creation, gaining inspiration from social inputs, histories and feelings of these communities. The art form can become a strong actor for community building processes, stimulating well-being, helping to fight feelings of loneliness and marginalisation of communities. Moreover, when created by highly capable artists, Murals are able to turn empty and abandoned surfaces into visually stimulating pieces of art, adding to the general sense of ‘beautification’ of a Mural’s surroundings.

Mural Art is increasingly being seen as a valuable tool for community building. However, as it is more generally the product of urban cultures created and thriving outside the contexts of traditional art and cultural infrastructures, their creation processes, and potentials for community engagement have not yet been captured on a systematic scale. Still, there are many cities in Europe, especially those that have issues with deprivation (e.g. worn-off high-rise blocks, open spaces and raw walls in-between historical buildings) where Mural art is popping-up in a bottom-up manner.

The Murals for Communities project seeks to explore, capture and formalise the potentials of Mural arts as a tool for Community Engagement by creating Mural art works through community involvement and co creation between community members and Mural artists. Moreover, the project seeks to transnationally expand the possibilities of Mural artists and seek to strengthen their position and capacity within the European cultural scene.