Waterford, Heerlen & Kaunas

Murals for Communities is a collaboration of three European cities. Its origins are with the Creative Europe initiative. On this page, you can find information on the cities, their organizations and the different other partners involved with our international Mural-Arts project


Lead Partner The Walls Project (Waterford), visit organization
Communications Partner
The Street Art Foundation (Heerlen) visit organization
Research Partner
Innovative Creative Projects (Kaunas) visit organization

Waterford, Ireland

The city of Waterford underwent a period of urban regeneration. As a result of over-reliance on a few major industries, the city entered into a period of economic decline after the collapse of these industries since the crisis of 2008. The city was left with one of the highest youth unemployment and emigration rates in the country, turning many parts of its centre into ‘ghost’ areas with empty buildings and a lack of cohesion among its remaining inhabitants.

Resulting from a desire to regain momentum, the city undertook activities to improve the life quality of those living and working in the city through cultural activities having a strong focus on co-creation and cultural participation, initiated by the Waterford City & County Council (WCCC) through the development of the ‘three sisters’ European Capital of Culture (ECoC) bid and the city’s Cultural Quarter Strategy. Closely linked to the strategy is Waterford Walls International Street Art Festival (WW), managed by The Walls Project, that is strategically supported by WCCC.

The Walls Project is a creative agency who manage the delivery of large scale public and private artworks across Ireland and Europe. Within Ireland, the project has painted large scale mural artworks in Cork City, Dublin City, Co. Wexford, Co. Laois, Kilkenny City as well as Waterford City and County. The annual Waterford Walls Festival, running since 2015, is Ireland's largest International Street Art Festival and seeks to use Mural Art to connect communities and stimulate the development of run-down areas. With WW, The Walls Project has facilitated the transformation of derelict buildings in the city with Mural Artworks, installing over 100 large scale public artworks, which have regenerated and transformed Waterford City Centre.

Heerlen, The Netherlands

Heerlen is a former mining town that largely suffered from the collapse of its mining industry in the second half of the 20th century, resulting in a loss of economic and social attractiveness and leading to large-scale problems related to migration, social deprivation and disconnection between the cities communities. Since 2001, the city works to fight its issues of deprivation through culture. Hereby, it nominated street art (e.g. Mural Arts) as one of the key cultural expression forms for this cause, based on the art form’s ability to make effective use of the city’s raw and unpolished surfaces.

Supported by Heerlen Municipality, The Street Art Foundation (SAF), established in 2013, has been able to use the potentials of Mural Arts and turn it into a tool for social interaction. The foundation has facilitated the creation of 67 Murals that revolve around the idea of co-creation and co-ownership, created by artists on raw walls and abandoned buildings, reflecting the local contexts of people, neighbourhoods and the city’s history. The foundation is a trend-setter in the development of cooperation activities among Mural artists, local businesses and schools. For the creation of the Murals, the foundation closely cooperates with various cultural actors in the city (e.g. the Cultura Nova Festival) and the Municipality of Heerlen (e.g. in projects such as the AuroraFlat redevelopment project).

Kaunas, Lithuania

Kaunas is the second largest city in Lithuania, behind the capital Vilnius. While mostly being an industrial centre during communism, the city currently faces issues related to economic and social neglect, leading to persistent problems of disconnection between many communities and groups living in the city, including ethnic minorities (e.g. Tatars, Russians, and Jewish communities). The city is under a process of social and cultural re-emergence, underlined by the city’s successful European Capital of Culture application, becoming the official holder of the title in 2022. Based on the bid, a focus point of the city is to establish stronger interlinkages between cultural participation and social cohesion.

Thus Mural Arts, being a vibrant and upcoming art scene in the city, has been identified as one of the elements to stimulate the process. The Kaunas University of Technology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities (KTU) is an important actor within the field of academic research on intercultural communication linked to cultural and artistic expression forms. Moreover, the university has facilitated the creation of several Mural works on its campus. Its Associated Partner, Innovative Creative Projects (ICP) is the creator of the Small Walls Project that has created 16 Murals (e.g. by the artist Morfai) around the city since its establishment in 2015. Hereby, it aimsto incorporate methods that aid social regeneration through the art form and inject new life into neglected walls it targets.