Porch Light



A porch light symbolizes warmth and security. It is an invitation to a safe space sheltered from the most challenging elements; a space where one can truly be well. In light of recent national tragedies, the need is greater than ever to work together in creating safe and inviting spaces in our own communities. The City of Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program and Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) recognize this need and are proud to present The Porch Light Program – a groundbreaking public art approach to achieving health and wellness in Philadelphia.

Partnering for Change

You might be wondering why the Mural Arts Program (MAP) and the City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) are working so closely. To put simply, our organizational values are the same. Mural Arts and DBHIDS believe that art can do much more than create beauty. We believe art can play a critical role in healing, resilience, and wellness. The Mural Arts Program mines the power of community-based public art by cultivating deep community connections, illuminating new ways to understand and address city-wide challenges, and creating opportunities for connection and healing.  DBHIDS is actively moving away from a traditional treatment approach that aims to fix people’s symptoms without attending to the social and physical environment in which they live and that focuses solely on treating individuals with a diagnosable behavioral health condition.  Instead, DBHIDS takes a holistic approach to health care focused on population health promotion, community wellness, and attention to social determinants of health.

Partnering for Impact

Since 2007, the partnership between the Mural Arts Program and the Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services has resulted in 18 completed projects, including 15 large-scale murals, and six ongoing mural projects across Philadelphia.  We have partnered to complete murals that focus specifically on mental health and substance use, as well as other issues that significantly influence our mental health, including faith and spirituality, homelessness, trauma, immigration, war and community safety and tensions.  We believe that mental and emotional well-being are essential to overall health and are influenced by many circumstances, including stress, availability of support, experiences of trauma, access to behavioral health care, educational and economic opportunities, and the social and physical environment. Through the creation of participatory community-driven art, we offer opportunities for connection between individuals in behavioral health services, families, service providers, the broader community, and city government to address these circumstances.

Partnering for Sustainability

Participatory community-driven art and the connections it fosters not only increases people’s awareness of behavioral health concerns, but it also positively impacts people’s perceptions of individuals experiencing the issue.  Participatory public art has reduced stigma and mobilized communities for positive change outside of the completion of the mural.  Our work has been recognized not only by agencies and media outlets in Philadelphia, but by national funders such as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, academic audiences, and other Behavioral Health Commissioners across the world who now visit us to learn how they can bring this kind of innovative approach to their own communities.

We are now accepting applications for 2014 Porch Light project partners. Please click the link below to learn more about the application process and upcoming deadlines.

Some of Our Completed Porch Light Projects

The Color of Your Voice

This mural represents a partnership between Mural Arts, Project HOME, the Hank Gathers Rec Center, and the Department of Beh..

It Has To Be From Here…

The mural depicts the strength and resilience of the APM community as well as the importance of APM as...

Our Vision Our Testament

The mural design for S.T.O.P. is a visual representation of the dialogue that took place during the weekly Porch Light workshops with...