Common Wealth Murals (CWM) fosters the creation of exceptional public art that is by, for, and about the people who will live with the art. We produce the annual Fresh Paint Springfield mural festival, manage individual mural and other public art installations, and offer trainings in community muralism.
The Community Mural Institute (CMI) trains emerging and established muralists in best practices for community-engaged mural making. The CMI will come to your community, and combines classroom instruction, experiential learning, and professional mentorship so that by the end of the Institute, local artists can independently create and install exceptional community-engaged murals. This program is done in partnership with Greta McLain, the Founder and Artistic Director of GoodSpace Murals.
CWM also manages individual mural installations. We work with you to identify your goals for your mural, aesthetic preferences, schedule and budget. Based on that creative brief, we will offer a slate of diverse, vetted, available professional muralists for you to choose from. We manage all of the logistics and oversee the installation process so that you end up with a professional mural that you love without any of the project management hassle.
CWM also produces Fresh Paint Springfield (FPS), an annual mural festival in Springfield MA. The goals of FPS are to boost economic activity, catalyze diverse and inclusive civic engagement, and turn neighborhood into compelling walkable outdoor galleries of exquisite works of art. An independent evaluation of Fresh Paint Springfield found that the festival created experiences of inclusivity, diversity and belonging, increased civic engagement and pride, improved perceptions of the city, and generated extensive positive media coverage. The evaluators wrote:
“The festival galvanized interest and engagement, causing people to travel to and spend time downtown to see the murals, not just once, but for many, several times. During the festival, residents, workers, and visitors forged new pathways for traveling around the downtown district by foot. The murals slowed people down, enhanced walkability, and transformed previously nondescript buildings in to landmarks and Springfield’s urban sidewalks into gathering spaces for people to appreciate art, pose for commemorative photographs, and learn about the residents, history, and cultural vitality of the city.
“Through FPS, sponsors, partners, and other supporters attained shared goals for transforming downtown Springfield into a vibrant, thriving cultural scene. … The depth and breadth of engagement with diverse stakeholders emerged as one of the most important and unique aspects of FPS. While the outpouring of support and broad engagement in FPS came as a surprise to many, these outcomes were largely tied to intentional production decisions. Inclusion and diversity were guiding principles in all aspects of the festival production, from the selection of vendors and event hosts, to images shown on the festival website and social media feed, to the muralists and the images they created.
“This resulted in a consistent and comprehensive communication of the value and respect the festival placed on people who may not typically feel included in downtown events, and the creation of high quality public art that permanently memorializes the value of diversity and inclusion in community life. The impact of these and other elements in creating an event of substantial scale, diverse engagement, and cultural and economic impact suggests that mural festivals are most effective when produced through a comprehensive, aligned, and professionally conceived approach to overall production and delivery.” - from “Fresh Paint Springfield 2019: Culture and Economy in the Renaissance of a Massachusetts City”
“Most importantly to our organization was the community building, and how the experience was incredibly effective in breaking down social, economic, racial barriers; the public art a close second and thirdly, the ability to demonstrate Springfield as stronger, healthier and a vital and interesting place to visit.” – Festival Sponsor
“I was really impressed that Fresh Paint brought new people into the conversation about how we can better integrate arts and culture into the economy of the city and what makes a better downtown. When I went to the block party, I looked around and I didn't know anyone there and that never happens. Several hundred people that I didn't know! So we're getting new people to participate in the revitalization of Springfield. - Festival Sponsor
CWM is directed by Britt Ruhe. For over 30 years, Britt has led non-profit organizations, applying her skills in community organizing, project management, fiscal management, and public relations to create transformative opportunities for people to work together to improve their own communities. Britt is a big fan of graffiti and street art, and has a special passion for community-engaged mural making. Britt holds a BA in Community Development and an MBA from the University of Massachusetts. For over 30 years, Britt has led non-profit organizations, applying her skills in community organizing, project management, fiscal management, and public relations to create transformative opportunities for people to work together to improve their own communities.