This week there has been a lot of publicity about the new Fremantle street art and graffiti policy. This was put together with Dr Martin Drum and public policy students from the University of Notre Dame and doesn’t make street art legal but it does allow our graffiti removal team to leave up some street if it has artistic merit. It will be out for public comment over the next month so have your say. Here is what the West wrote on page 3 today:
FREO ALLOWS GRAFFITI ART by Kate Emery, The West Australian Updated October 25, 2012
Graffiti deemed to have artistic or cultural merit will be preserved in Fremantle under a policy shake-up intended to promote a “vibrant street art culture”.
Fremantle City Council last night unanimously approved a change in policy that will hand city workers the power to retain unauthorised graffiti, which would otherwise be automatically removed.
Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt acknowledged the move might be controversial for some residents but said it would ease the burden on council workers and allow more “thoughtful” works to remain.
“It’s quite an innovative policy but one that, I think, makes a lot of sense,” he said.
“We realised that the current approach, which saw all graffiti in the same way, wasn’t really working as well as it could.
“Ultimately councils only have so many resources to remove graffiti and I would much rather we put our resources into removing mindless tags as opposed to some of the more thoughtful works.”
Mr Pettitt said there would “always be a grey area” about what constituted art.
He said a flock of birds painted on the wall of a public toilet block was one example of graffiti that had prompted a rethink of the city’s policy.
Another painting of a man smoking a pipe, which decorates a small alley behind shops in Atwell Arcade, was given as another example of the type of art that could be retained under the new policy.
Under existing rules, the city has a dedicated team that aims to get rid of graffiti in 24 to 48 hours.
Under the new policy, which will go out for public comment before being implemented in December, workers will make an initial judgment on new graffiti and immediately remove any deemed unworthy.
Any work considered potentially interesting will be referred to other staff, with the city’s public art officer and director of community services making the ultimate decision.
Statewide, graffiti is estimated to cost taxpayers $25 million a year in clean-up and repairs.
However, the rise of popular street artists such as Perth’s Stormie Mills, Britain’s Banksy and Belgian-born ROA, who was paid $15,000 by the City of Fremantle last year to paint a giant numbat on a wall in Henderson Street mall, has prompted debate about the value of graffiti as an art form.
Banksy, who has become a household name in Britain, was last year named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and his works sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The changes planned for Fremantle would be similar to those already endorsed by the City of Melbourne, which posts examples of street art on its website.