Beautify Santa Monica: How murals revitalized culture and business

Business up 50%. Graffiti down 95%. A once-blighted strip is now a destination. How Santa Monica and Beautify gave this seaside city the makeover every community deserves.


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Mural by Ruben Rojas and Cloe Hakakian


“Beautify Earth’s work has increased my business revenue up by 50% and driven traffic with people who would never have noticed us otherwise”

—Benny Escobar, Metropolitan Cleaners, Lincoln Blvd


If you drive down Lincoln Boulevard, which runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean a few blocks inland here, you might not believe that a few years ago it was often disparaged as “Stinkin’ Lincoln.” A stretch of prime real estate between Beverly Hills and the beach, surrounded by upscale homes and businesses in a city celebrated in film, TV and song, had somehow gone neglected. To drive Lincoln Street was to run a gauntlet of disrepair, squalor and blight.


I lived here. It bothered me. I decided to do something about it. I’m a street artist myself, so I knew it was totally doable to clean up Santa Monica’s neediest walls and repaint them. Not with neutral colors, or ads, or bad art, but with striking, soothing and inspiring images that would change the experience of living here, and make Lincoln a tourist destination.


I learned I wasn’t alone. People from across the community were eager to collaborate, cooperate, coordinate and get it done. We identified, planned and painted more than 130 walls around Santa Monica into supersize canvases on public display.


Visible transformation backed by data

Lincoln Boulevard today is a whole new corridor. Businesses with art have seen graffiti drop 95%, along with litter, repainting costs and other upkeep. Vandalism costs are continuously higher than that of creating murals—murals are more respected by vandals, and require only minimal maintenance compared to repainting over graffiti.


Foot traffic on Lincoln is visibly booming around these businesses, with revenues up as much as 50%.


Inspiring other cities

As our success gathered attention, people in other cities have picked up our ideas and created their own projects, from Beautify Crenshaw in Los Angeles to Beautify Rockaways in New York.


Measurable benefits

Murals are proven to benefit the area around them in several ways:

  • Less graffiti

  • Less crime

  • Higher foot traffic

  • Increased business revenue

  • Fewer unit vacancies

  • Higher commercial rents - because businesses want to be there

Lincoln Boulevard has specifically seen:

  • a 50% increase in foot-traffic & business revenue

  • a 95% drop in graffiti and associated repainting costs, and littering through general upkeep and pride of maintained areas.



How we did it

From community paint days to civic engagement workshops through our Civic Love program, we activated Santa Monica and our residents to participate in impactful public art projects.Beautify Santa Monica was a coordinated effort of multiple projects.


Beautify combines both the people and tech it takes to plan and manage projects across a city:

  • A technology platform designed and built by tech-sector veterans.

  • A leadership team of artists who are also business people with experience working with corporate clients, neighborhood organizations, and city governments. We’ve placed more than 10,000 murals in more than 100 cities since 2012.


Evan Meyer is a co-founder and the CEO of Beautify.


Testimonials and Press


"Beautify Earth has transformed many of our local Santa Monica/Venice neighborhoods and businesses through community-based public art. I think highly of Evan and his organization’s mission to improve our communities through the power of art."

Senator Ben Allen


MidCity Neighborhood Association

“The return on investment is tremendous.”

Former Santa Monica mayor Pam O’Connor

“Their work has inspired the community, and created a colorful street from what was an eyesore for decades.”


Pico Improvement Organization

“The presence of the murals have contributed to an increase in foot traffic, increased revenue for Pico businesses, a decrease of tagging on mural walls, and they greatly accelerate the economic growth and community pride on Pico Blvd.”


Santa Monica Daily Press

"Beautify Earth was recently honored with the Cultural Tourism Champion Award from California Travel Association."


“Thank you for turning the boring into the beautiful, and building a strong community movement along the way”

—Ted Winterer, Past Mayor of Santa Monica -



“Beautify Earth has beautified Santa Monica’s bleakest blank walls with startling creativity that delights the eye, warms the heart and captures the imagination”


—Rick Cole, former city manager-


"Enlivens the city's streetscape and creates an identity of which people can bond."


—Gleam Davis, former mayor



“Beautify Earth is such a wonderful representation of the creative spirit and innovative thinking that is alive and well in Santa Monica”


—Misti Kerns, CEO. Santa Monica Travel and Tourism




Community Engagement & Volunteer Paint Days




Santa Monica’s

Hollywood Sign


A gift to our hometown at Santa Monica High School






Gratitude


A message to us all from City award-winning muralist and Co-founder Ruben Rojas and Cloe Hakakian





Schools


- Painting with the little ones -

Almost every school in Santa Monica now has one or murals, with over a dozen at Franklin Elementary School.








Community Partnership


City of Santa Monica, Community Corp, Beautify Earth - Unveiling Ceremony of mural by Ginoflo





Connecting Communities

We’re connecting neighborhoods, residents, tourists, businesses and government, inspiring people to get involved, and improving the well-being of our citizens and vibrancy of our communities through:





Participation From community paint days, to civic engagement workshops through our Civic Love program, we have “activated” Santa Monica and our residents to participate in impactful public art projects.

Tourism Tourists see murals as an attraction, which add invaluable, viral social media marketing for the City.

Education Children are positively impacted by co-creating inspiring murals on bland walls in their school, teaching kids that change is within their own hands.


Experiential learning Santa Monica College offers a Beautify Earth, experiential learning component to their public policy course, enabling students to be out in the field, improve their own community, and think through the policy opportunities for maintaining “thoughtful” streets.



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