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Dane County officials and community members have recently begun work on the Dane Arts Mural Arts project, a collaborative effort aimed to train young artists and beautify neighborhoods in the Madison area.

"Arts are transformative to communities, they can create a sense of belonging for youth by beautifying communities and creating ownership of neighborhoods," Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said in a June 5 statement following DAMA's first public workshop. "This is a wonderful opportunity to engage youth while bringing together community members."

The mural-making project, an effort introduced by the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission, mirrors similar programs in cities nationwide with hopes of providing opportunities for at-risk youth and increasing community engagement.

"I believe that the transformative power of art can be harnessed -and simultaneously unleashed- to make a highly-visible long-lasting impact on neighborhoods while giving meaning and voice to citizens," Sharon Kilfoy, director of DAMA and the Williamson Street Art Center, explained in a statement.

DAMA's first project is a mural at the Zion City Community Outreach Center and is focused on conservation. The program hopes to complete three to four buildings every year, according to Parisi.

Community members of all levels have the opportunity to participate, as trained community artists provide mentoring for the youth in the program.

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