When I saw this painted favela in Brazil I went through this sequence: 1. Wow, beautiful. 2. How is papering over poverty and structural inequity with a rainbow going to help? 3. I would actually feel much happier living in Santa Marta after the paint job, and maybe it would attract money into the community.
The project was spearheaded by Jeroen Koolhaas (son of Rem Koolhaas) and Dre Urhahn, both artists in the Netherlands. They began in 2005 with the idea of community art projects as a form of community development and they worked on murals, which then morphed into painting whole developments. The “before” photo is below. See also the official website at Favela Painting as well as Plataforma Arquitectura. They’re also on Facebook.