A district in Palermo becomes an open-air museum

A district in Palermo becomes an open-air museum

The Borgo Vecchio Factory project to promote social development has transformed a district in the historic centre of Palermo into an open-air museum. With the active participation of the community

Borgo Vecchio is an old district, located in the historic city centre of Palermo, left to its own devices and almost unknown to outsiders. Here unemployment has reached 40 percent, poverty and criminality run rampant, and illiteracy is extremely common. At school the young prefer the street, where they live among the refuse, dirt and delinquency. In 2014 the organizations Push and Per Esempio Onlus created the Borgo Vecchio Factory project to promote social development, which was financed through a crowd-funding campaign, and documented in a film of the same name produced by The Piranesi Experience.

Everything started with the painting workshop by the graffiti artist Ema Jons, which was followed up by workshops by Pang, Aris, Alleg and NemO’s. The result is a series of murals, painted together with the children and teens, based on their drawings.

Afterwards, thanks in part to financing from the University of Palermo, at the end of 2015 the artist Poki led a poster art workshop for the littlest kids while, a month ago, the French artist Coquelicot Mafille got children and parents working together in an embroidery drawing class, first on fabric and then on walls. Also, as part of these events Ema Jons, the people responsible for the project and the residents of the area cleaned up the football pitch, raising the necessary funds with a tournament. “These initiatives”, explain the organizers, “restored their faith in their own abilities and taught them the importance of working together, encouraging the entire community to reflect on their own spaces and to see them with new eyes, to begin to appreciate them again and improve them”.

They created an open-air museum that is continuously evolving and that has even attracted the attention of tourists, opening this neighborhood up to the rest of the world.

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