Restore – 49 is a bold new initiative developed in response to the COVID-19 shelter-in-place ordinance, and now increasingly of greater importance given the uncertainty of a rapid return to “normal” in the Bay Area.
Amidst the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic, small businesses and large retailers alike have shuttered throughout the Bay Area, adhering to state mandates to protect employees and consumers while they face an uncertain economic future. In response to the changing face of the city, Project Artivism is launching a new program, (Restore 49), to partner closed businesses with local artists in an effort to reimagine storefronts through art-inspired murals that evoke joy, hope, security, and positivity for all residents.
In a matter of weeks, storefronts have preemptively been boarded up and/or secured to prevent looting and theft. With over 120,000 small businesses in San Francisco, this is an enormously consequential change in the urban scenery. With an uncertain timeline for re-opening, many of these storefronts, and as a result, neighborhoods, could remain shuttered for months on end, potentially leading to urban decay and blight. The program aims to rejuvenate the urban terrain, reactivate the sites of shuttered businesses and support communities in need through creative expression.
A growing body of research has identified murals as providing urban areas with social, cultural, economic benefits, as well as positive mental health outcomes for neighborhoods. Additionally, murals enhance public safety by creating a feeling that a location is cared for, which in turn makes crime of opportunity such as vandalism, illegal dumping, drug use, and robbery less likely. Project Artivism’s RESTORE – 49 is an opportunity to provide artists with paid work to create murals that reimagine the landscape of the city and engage with small businesses from a new creative vantage point with multi-faceted benefits. With a modest budget, this project has enormous potential. Project Artivism is proposing a $11,250 budget for the first 15 murals to be completed in Phase 1, and for the project to expand to 49 murals and beyond in phase 2 with a larger budget and more community involvement.