More than 200 students from four inner-city elementary schools were on-hand recently to help install and unveil the 'Half-Mile Mural' along STAPLES Center's construction wall in downtown Los Angeles.

The project, sponsored by the STAPLES Center Foundation and Inner-City Arts, resulted in students from 19 Los Angeles inner-city elementary & middle schools and community organizations creating original artwork to decorate the construction wall surrounding the 10-acre construction site.

The participating organizations were given 20'x8' artist's canvas for each group or class of their students to create original artwork which will be displayed along Figueroa, 11th and 12th Streets through the completion of construction which is expected to be in October 1999.

Students from nearby Evelyn Gratts Elementary School, 9th Street Elementary School, 10th Street Elementary School and Sierra Park Elementary School were joined by local employees from Staples, Inc. to install the last two panels of the half-mile display. Following the installation, the children were able to find their personal "submissions" along the wall.

"Our alliance with Inner-City Arts was a natural for us," commented Timothy J. Leiweke, Executive Vice President, L.A. Arena Company. "Their work has such a positive impact not only in the immediate community surrounding STAPLES Center but specifically in making a difference in the lives of the children of Los Angeles."

The STAPLES Center Foundation, created by the arena owners is dedicated to improving the quality of life for the city's youth by supporting and promoting youth recreation and education programs. The Foundation has pledged to raise $1 million for the Inner-City Arts organization over the next five years.

"With a little help, a child's imagination has created something beautiful where before there was nothing. We think that this is a wonderful first step in the partnership between the new STAPLES Center and the local community, " said Thomas G. Stemberg, Chairman and CEO, Staples, Inc. "We're proud to support an organization like Inner-City Arts that helps young people channel their energies in a positive and creative manner."

"This Mural is the creative voice of 4,000 children in the City of Los Angeles," said Bob Bates, Artistic Director, Inner-City Arts. "It captures the same energy and dynamics of sports that the new STAPLES Center will bring to our great city. The mural is 2,000 feet of joy and light - full of the color and vitality contained in the children's hearts and expressed in the potential of the new arena," Bates continued.

Inner-City Arts was founded in 1989 in response to severe cuts in funding for art programs among the schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Their mission is to bring the arts into the lives of inner-city children. In partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Inner-City Arts offers in-depth programs that enhance creativity, self expression and build academic success in a safe nurturing environment.

Among the schools participating in the project are Esperanza, Betty Plascencia, Castellar Street, San Pedro, Ninth Street, Rowan Avenue, Utah Street, Sierra Park, Harrison Street, 28th Street, Figueroa, Union Avenue, Leo Politi, Magnolia Avenue, Evelyn Gratts, Logan, Hoover, Hobart Blvd. and 10th Street. Submissions from over 4,000 students will be displayed for the next 16 months.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.