Local artists can get paid to create murals in neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID

The Arts Council for Long Beach is seeking local artists for a new public art project that will pay them to paint murals in parks and facilities across the city.

The art project, known as the Public Mural Program, will work with artists to produce up to nine murals in areas that have been most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. By creating these art pieces, the city and Arts Council hope to engage the community, increase foot traffic, and “uplift the overall spirit of the neighborhood,” according to the program description.

The Arts Council, a nonprofit that supports local artists, is planning to cover the artists’ pay and supplies with $135,000 it received through the city’s new Creative Economy Grants Program, which opened in May to support local arts organizations hit hard by the pandemic. The funding for this program comes from the Long Beach Recovery Act, the city’s COVID-19 relief fund.

Arts Council Executive Director Griselda Suárez said she and her team are excited about the project and encourage local artists to apply as “the opportunity doesn’t come often to do this kind of work,” she said.

Eligible artists don’t need to be muralists by trade but must demonstrate a “strong interest” in creating public art and also be registered with the ACLB’s Artist Registry. The registry is free to enter but does require the artist to submit a mission statement and images of their art, among other details. Having a robust and detailed registry is highly encouraged, Suárez said, and acts as a portfolio.

In this file photo: Artists Alva McNeal (left) and Ciana Anita Kalokomaika’imaikalanimai Lee were commissioned by Scan Health Plan, in partnership with the Arts Council Long Beach, to paint the new mural featuring 101-year-old Folklorico dancer Alta Regalado at Pan American Park. Photo courtesy Arts Council for Long Beach.

The deadline to submit was originally Aug. 5, but due to COVID-19 setbacks, Suárez said, the submission deadline has been extended. Artists have until Sept. 2 to submit (or update) their artist registry and notify the Arts Council of their interest in the program.

A pool of artists will be selected and then asked to submit concept designs that will be considered by the Arts Council, the city and residents from the neighborhood around the proposed mural site. Artists will also be asked to speak with the community about their proposed ideas for feedback.

Some of the proposed mural sites as identified in the city’s Parks Mural Toolkit include Ramona Park, Wardlow Park, Pan American Park and Coolidge Park in North Long Beach. But, Suárez notes, site locations won’t be confirmed until December.

Finalists will be secured by October and mural installations are anticipated to begin as early as spring 2023.

On Aug. 22 the Arts Council is hosting a virtual workshop to inform artists about the program and help them apply. Click here to register for the free workshop.

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Cheantay Jensen is reporter and award-winning videographer who covers entertainment, art, food and culture for the Hi-lo section of the Long Beach Post. And sometimes breaking news, you know, just to keep things interesting.
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