Salem, MA

Contact Name
Megan Pendleton
Project Dates
September 2011 - May 2012
In 2011, a collaborative partnership was forged between the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem, and the North Shore Community Development Coalition (NSCDC). These community leaders joined forces to empower the youth of Salem, MA to bring a public mural to life, fostering community engagement through the arts in Salem's Point neighborhood.

Each community partner played a meaningful role in the project, made possible through open communication. PEM provided art galleries and an art teacher to encourage inspiration. The NSCDC secured building permits, a physical location for the mural, and teambuilding leadership sessions. The Boys & Girls Club delivered the students (ages 10-12) and the studio location. The mural was unveiled in May 2012.
Project Goals
What were the project goals?
Our initial project goals were to bring three community partners together to assist the youth in developing a community mural. Additional goals included 16 visits over the 2011-2012 school year spent at the Peabody Essex Museum, gaining artistic skills and knowledge from gallery exhibitions, as well as a fostering of teamwork and pride in the Salem community, particularly the low-income Point neighborhood.
Have they changed over time?
Our goals did evolve, as we also found it necessary to bring in the NSCDC teambuilding sessions to further unite the group as they forged ahead with the mural undertaking. We also set a goal of including guest mural artists (2) and taking the students out of their element in Salem and on a field trip to view the murals of Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Who are the project partners and stakeholders?
Peabody Essex Museum (Megan Pendleton)
North Shore Community Development Coalition (Joy Winkler)
Boys & Girls Club of Greater Salem (Taylor Nelson)
Grants: New England Biolabs, van Otterloo Foundation, JP Morgan
Project Specifics
How was the project implemented? What were the steps taken?
The project began as a series of discussions between the three core partners (Joy, Megan, and Taylor). The uniting force was PEM's ArtLink program, fostering youth and community partnerships. Under this umbrella, the backburner mural project was able to resurface and generate new life. A curriculum was developed after discussion with the three partners and further developed by PEM to include exhibition visits, field trips, and teambuilding activities run by the NSCDC.
Have they been refined over time?
The project was refined over time, truly on a weekly basis, as various needs arose. In the end, the initial timeline proved a solid basis for implementation.
What were your major obstacles?
Our major obstacles were securing a space for the mural (building permits), the constant transition of youth at the Boys & Girls Club, and storage space for the mural panels.
Who or what was instrumental in overcoming these obstacles?
Instrumental in overcoming these obstacles was extremely open communication between the three partners and the youths involved. Weekly check-in meetings made day-to-day details possible to be ironed out, and check-ins with the youth provided both the youths and partners information on student learning and needs.
What top three suggestions would you give to others attempting a similar project?
Our top three suggestions that we would share with others attempting a similar project are:
1. Find open-minded partner organizations - you don't have to have the same goals, but be willing and open to working towards the same result.
2. Stay in constant communication - email, google docs, and weekly meetings were necessary when bringing three organizations with variety interests together.
3. Make sure your number one goal is always the kids - if you loose sight of this goal, end results can become muddied.
Project Impact
How has this project contributed to creative community building?
This project has contributed to creative community building in that the work lives on. After a successful mural installation and unveiling, the three community organizations continue to be linked more positive ways than ever. Two new community art projects involving public art have sprung up in the 2012-2013 school year, including a mosaic mural and public art tour developed by Salem teens. Both encourage youth pride in the community and highlight artmaking as a positive outlet for youths. Connecting these three community organization has opened doors for new partner connections throughout Salem, with other organizations encouraged by the result and interested in partnering in the future.
Why do you consider the project successful, as related to your project goals above?
The project achieved our original goals in that the mural was completed, the youth were exposed to a wide diversity of artwork and art exhibitions, teamwork was fostered, and a piece of public art was installed.
Were there unexpected impacts?
The unexpected, but thrilling, impacts included an open dialogue between the three organizations, youth empowerment, amazing community support, and an addition to the future Salem Public Art Walking Tour!