Frequently Asked Questions
Why did the Putnam County Mural Project (PCMP) get started?
Public art isn’t new to Putnam County, but the initiative to install multiple large scale murals began in 2015 with the Greencastle Civic League’s installation of “Greencastle Blossoms” on the old Eitel’s Florist building. In 2019, The Putnam County Mural Project (PCMP) took up the efforts to go even bigger and bolder, installing Indiana’s largest mural on the silos on the corner of Veteran’s Highway and SR 231 in Greencastle.
PCMP is an all-volunteer team of arts, education, tourism, business, and nonprofit professionals who see the value of arts and community. The organization believes that murals have the ability to transform communities through celebrating heritage, creating civic pride, and enriching lives through participatory art-making.
How is the community engaged in the mural process?
In 2019 we did extensive community input gathering during First Fridays, Farmers Markets, and notecards in local libraries. The input we gathered then continues to inform the guidelines we give to our selected artists now. We continue to take part in community events; most recently we attended the Cloverdale Elementary/Middle School Art Fair and held a listening session between the artist for the 2022 wall across from Fillmore Elementary School and Fillmore school children. A core component of selecting artists was their experience and willingness to engage with community members while they are here. What this looks like will depend on each artist.
How are the walls selected?
Community members are invited to submit a wall they own for consideration. PCMP committee members also identify walls throughout the county they see as potential locations. We look for walls that are visible or accessible to the public, that are in relatively good condition, and are in locations that would enrich the local community. As we continue to expand our murals, our goal is to further expand the location of murals to more parts of the county. All wall owners must enter into a five-year easement agreement and agree that all artwork proposals will be selected through a community-based review committee.
How are artists selected?
A call for artists is released about 6 months prior to mural installation. This call is sent out via artist forums, social media sites, and personal connections of the PCMP committee members. In 2019, about 75 artists submitted proposals for the Silo Murals. In 2022, about 115 artists submitted proposals, many of whom referenced having followed the Silo Murals being painted via social media.
The PCMP committee invites 20-25 individuals from the community to be part of the selection committee. We pay careful attention to include members with an arts background and those without, and to have a committee that is reflective of our community, made up of people from various backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, gender, and geography. The selection committee reviews proposals and together narrows down the list of artists to consider. PCMP committee members then look at that list and discuss a variety of factors before making the final decisions: artistic style, experience, the level of artist engagement in and with the communities they work, how the artist’s work fits the designated wall, as well as gender, race, ethnicity, identity, age, and location, in order to provide a diversity of styles and backgrounds.
How are the mural designs selected?
With the 2019 Silo Mural project, PCMP sought input from county residents through multiple strategies. More than 2,000 suggestions were gathered as input on what residents wanted to see in murals, specifically about design content, colors, and types of art. This information was - and continues to be - shared with artists involved with PCMP.
Once muralists are selected, artists submit draft renditions of what they propose to create. The PCMP committee reviews drafts based on the input gathered from community members, the input from the artist selection committee, and their knowledge of the county. They provide feedback to the artist on aspects of the proposal, working with the artist until a final rendition is agreed upon.
Will you repaint the murals as they fade or weather?
With each mural, PCMP has an easement agreement with the building owner. In that agreement, we agree to repair any damages to the mural during a five-year period (this is standard for murals of this sort). If the mural is damaged (e.g., a vehicle hits the wall, graffiti) in that five-year span, we will repair it. However, we have chosen to not repaint murals because of fading. Our belief is most murals will have a long life and will develop a natural patina or weathering to them. When they are at a point of significant decay, we believe that’s a time to revisit what is important to the community at that time, and weigh in again on what is important to them to have in public art. It’s also a chance for us to continue supporting a thriving arts and artist community.
How much does it cost to install a mural?
The easy answer is it depends on the size of the wall, materials used, and more. We value the talent, the skill, and the experience our artists bring and we believe in fair compensation on par with any working professional. For many of our artists, installing murals is their career. Our 2019 Silo Murals cost over $70,000 for the entire project (which included significant wall prep). Our 2022 Mural Festival, in which we are installing five murals of various sizes, has a projected overall budget of about $85,000. To properly seal all of the murals would require a minimum of an additional $25,000.
What kind of protective coating do you put on the murals so they last?
We select artists who choose high-quality paint to extend the life of the murals. Sun and weather will impact the mural, even with protective coatings. Protective coatings are a significant added cost that must be installed perfectly in order to work. As we continue to install more murals, we are learning more and will give preference to artwork and processes that ensure the murals can last as long as possible within the constraints of our crowdfunded budget.
Where does the money come from to pay for the murals?
In both 2019 and 2022 we have been proud to be part of the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority’s (IHCDA) CreatINg Places grant program. Our community received a $30,000 matching grant in 2019 and a $25,000 matching grant in 2022 from IHCDA. In 2022, 220 individuals or organizations gave $27,967 to help us reach our goal to receive the matching grant - this is an average of about $127 per donor.
We also sought out additional funds through grants to arts organizations, community foundations, and organizations. In 2022, we received $40,000 as a result of these efforts, as well as other in-kind donations.
There are lots of needs in Putnam County. Why put money toward murals and paint, and not toward one of these other needs?
Absolutely, there are a lot of needs in the county and we value the generous donations of time and dollars to support them. Beyond paint on walls, we believe public art can lead to several outcomes, which we consider as important as the murals themselves:
Community Revitalization: By adding works of art to over-looked spaces, we can improve the look and feel of that space. Residents who see the works of art take pride in the art and in their community, which can lead to more community improvements.
Arts Education & Capacity Building: Arts are central to life - just consider the last movie you watched, lyrics you sang along to, video game you played, or graphic novel you read. Art inspires our youth to dream and become the next generation of arts leaders and creators, while also supporting the livelihood and opportunities of our local artists.
Community Appreciation: When we share works of art outside, instead of behind the closed doors of a museum, they become something that is experienced alongside each other, both neighbors and friends, as well as strangers. When the art represents aspects of who we are, it allows us to celebrate together the pride in who we are.
While murals don’t solve our most critical problems, we believe they help instill pride in parts of who we are as a community that are beautiful and good. And we hope they inspire us to continue to dream big and in full-color, while motivating each of us to do something that enriches the community in which we live.
Will there be more murals, or more mural festivals, in the future?
This is our goal! We believe that public art can make a difference in communities. We’ve seen first-hand how art brings people together and helps them feel proud of where they live. We’ve also seen how something as large scale as big murals or mural festivals helps attract tourists to spend time (and money!) in our communities. As an all-volunteer organization, our biggest challenge next to funding is our time. We welcome the involvement and contributions of others. If you’d like to get involved and help with the next one, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there somewhere to find a list of all the murals in Putnam County?
Our friend and supporter, the Putnam County Convention & Visitors Bureau, has put together A Guide to Putnam County Public Art. You can take a look at that and the many other wonderful resources in Putnam County by visiting the Visitors Center website.
What do I do if I have a wall that I’d like a mural on?
We are always looking for walls to be considered for upcoming murals. Our goal is to have a long list of walls that are visible and/or accessible to the public. If you are the owner of the property with a wall for consideration, please visit our homepage to complete our interest form.
What do I do if I’m an artist who wants to be considered for the future?
Please reach out to us so we can add you to our mailing list for future calls for proposals. You can email us directly at email@example.com.