Birmingham Mural Project

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The Birmingham Mural Project was a 1978-79 campaign to enliven parts of the downtown area with professionally-painted murals on the sides of existing building walls. The 18-month program was sponsored by the Greater Birmingham Arts Alliance (GBAA) with federal funding from the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) which was allocated by the CETA Committee of Birmingham's Mannpower Commission, chaired by David Vann.

Ten artists, eligible because of their employment status, were selected by GBAA and asked to select sites in the downtown area. The GBAA then secured permission to work on the property and the building owners approved design sketches provided by the artists. Because many of the walls selected for improvement were in disrepair, the program funded the tools and materials needed for the artists to remove excess mortar and plaster by chiseling and grinding, to wash away dirt and soot by sand- and water-blasting, and to seal and prime the wall.

Each artist was paid a $10,000 annual salary, with additional funds for scaffolding, tools and materials. Building owners purchased the paint from Indurall at a special discount. Other grants and donations of money and materials supplemented the federal funding.

In all, the project added ten murals to the downtown streetscape and one each in Ensley, North Birmingham and Five Points South. One downtown mural was left unfinished. One of the mural artists subsequently received a private commission for a new mural downtown. Some of the original artists were unable to complete their commissions and were replaced during the course of the program.

The program was not renewed when the original funding period was completed in September 1979 as the entire CETA program, which had been controversial since its start, was drastically downscaled.


See also


  • Long, Laurie K. (1986) "A City With a Face: Street Art in Birmingham." in Ada Long, ed. Birmingham Then and Now. UAB Honors Program.