Council weighs in on debate for street art to deter graffiti

THE City of Ballarat has weighed into the debate on street art being used as way of deterring or erasing graffiti.

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In the last financial year, the city spent more than $65,000 clearing graffiti that riddles Ballarat’s bus shelters, council buildings, businesses and homes. 

Ballarat councillor Peter Innes and City of Ballarat community safety committee chair Cr Des Hudson said the council was fed up with spending thousands of dollars on clearing away unsightly tags and defaced public property.

Cr Des Hudson said he would support the concept if it was done appropriately.

“I certainly would support that notion because it can be a very useful strategy in reducing the amount of graffiti that occurs,” Cr Hudson said.

“There is some high quality aerosol art around and we need to stress that, if this concept was implemented, it has to be art and not graffiti, because we have no place for graffiti in this city.”

He added that if a concept was to be incorporated into Ballarat, the artwork should still preserve Ballarat’s heritage architecture. 

His comments come in the wake of a concept which is making waves in inner-city Melbourne.

In the past two years, 12 Melbourne municipalities have spent more than $8 million painting over tags and hundreds of thousands of dollars more in commissioning murals aimed at curbing letter-based graffiti. 

Councils that have joined the trend include Moreland, Maribyrnong and Stonnington. 

Cr Hudson said graffiti had the ability to cause unrest and fear in the community.

“Graffiti can make people feel unsafe if it is not removed or cleared away and it can lead to more graffiti in those locations,” he said.

“Rapid removal has found to be most effective because it takes away the ownership of the tag.”

Cr Innes said graffiti continued to be visually detrimental to the city.

“Tagging just takes away from the beauty of the city,” he said.

“I think there are areas this concept could work, including underground car parks, if it was properly researched and resourced.

“We need to open all the time to new ideas to address this issue because it is costing the council thousands that could be better spent in other programs.”

The city’s general manager of infrastructure, Eric Braslis, said the council had already invested in murals and paste-ups in Ballarat and was monitoring their success to determine possible future projects.

melissa.cunningham@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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