Beginning around 1970, muralists began to move from highly political and militant works to representations of unity and self-pride. This was the end of political muralism and the beginning of a calmer, more institutionalized stage in which there was not real racial mixing or collaboration.
In 1976 the first national meeting of muralists took place in New York. It gave these artists the sense of identity and of belonging they were lacking up to that point.
CETA was a federally funded government program enacted in 1973. It included funding for arts programs intended to help economically disadvantaged communities including African Americans, Latinos, underprivileged whites and seniors. It also provided grants to local and state government to support public and private job trainings. After 1973, CETA supported artists who created murals, paintings, photography and sculpture for public parks, public schools, agency lobbies and waiting rooms. It provided meaningful artistic experiences for many artists, and helped new muralists until the program was ended in 1980 with the election of Ronald Reagan.
Judith Baca, a Chicana artist, relied upon CETA support to found the City of Los Angeles' first mural program in 1974. Two years later, in 1976 she co-founded the Social and Public Art Resource Center, an organization which promoted community-based, participatory public arts projects. The SPARC was born after a period of time (1970-75) characterized by the lack of racial mixing and all the projects in different cities, were funded and controlled locally with the assistance of community centers of art like the Centro Cultural de la Raza in San Diego or the Mechicano Art Center or Goez Gallery in Los Angeles. (Sperling Cockcroft, 3)
In that same summer, Judy Baca started working on a gigantic project with a new multicultural emphasis: the Great Wall of Los Angeles. That summer, artists led by Baca worked with five historians and a team of 80 teenagers referred by the criminal justice department to paint a 1000 foot-long wall in the Tujungo Wash flood control channel in the San Fernando Valley. They intended to depict the history of California from prehistoric times to 1910. But Baca wanted to continue, so the project continued in the summers of 1978, 1980, 1981 and 1983. Each year the teams added 350 feet and a decade of history seen from the viewpoint of the various California ethnic groups.
After the completion of the Great Wall in 1984, the mayor thought that the same process could be repeated throughout the city of Los Angeles. Judy Baca and SPARC created and implemented Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride. Since 1988, the program has produced 105 murals in almost every ethnic community of Los Angeles. In these fourteen years, Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride has employed over 90 different established and emerging muralists from Los Angeles and around the country, it has trained hundreds of youth apprentices, it has collaborated with countless community based organizations. The project has worked with minority owned businesses, scholars, and the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks all to produce images that speak to the multi-ethnic communities that make up Los Angeles. As the first program of its kind in the nation, Great Walls Unlimited: Neighborhood Pride has become one of the country's most respected model mural programs, setting a standard which has inspired other cities across the United States.
In the mid 1970s, community murals were favorable accepted as a form of art, but Chicano and black artists still rarely cooperated with each other, and minority artists rarely engaged other "public artists." SPARC helped bring those groups together, but the 1980s also brought muralists many new challenges. By the mid 80s there were fewer artists interested in political activism, and cities started to offer significant funds to public art. Community muralists started to compete for city projects that were sponsored by cities.