FROM ISSUE 6 OF THE WARRAGUL CITIZEN: Get it now FOR FREE!
3 August 2012, 12.50pm. Published today in print as "Say it or spray it?"
Cleaning up: The costs of cleaning up after graffiti attacks on public toilets in Drouin broken down into three stages: Council costs, specialist contractor and graffiti-proof coating.
A GRAFFITI ATTACK on the Civic Park public toilets in Drouin is set to cost the Baw Baw Shire Council one seventh of its usual annual graffiti cleaning bill.
Baw Baw Shire Urban Maintenance Coordinator Garry Websdale told The Warragul Citizen the attack, which left the council with a $1000 cleaning bill, is one of the worst in recent years.
“This case in Drouin’s Civic Park was close to the worst we have seen in some time,” Mr Websdale said.
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Mr Websdale estimates that graffiti costs the council $7000 per year and increasing, with school holidays the worst times of the year.
“We find that school holidays are a time when this type of activity escalates,” Mr Websdale said.
“Graffiti hot spots are generally public toilets, skate parks and signage, however we do have infrequent attacks on other public buildings around sporting facilities and playgrounds.”
Say it or spray it?
An example of stencil graffiti in Warragul, found in the laneway between Bling Me More and Roylaines. Some community members believe inoffensive graffiti should be left alone to save council money. For more, see the Local Opinion section lower in this article. Image: Will Kulich.
The attacks on the Civic Park public toilets were messy and occasionally offensive, but other examples of graffiti in Baw Baw show more artistic talent.
Baw Baw Shire Mayor Diane Blackwood said the cost of cleaning up any graffiti impacts “on the whole community.”
“It takes council staff and money from other, more worthwhile projects,” Cr Blackwood said.
Mr Websdale broke down the cost of the cleanup into three stages:
■ $100 for costs incurred during an initial cleanup by the council.
■ $600 for hire of contractors with specialised equipment.
■ $300 to reapply a graffiti-proof coating to the front walls.
According to Mr Websdale, the types of graffiti seen by the council are “generally texta or spray can.”
Cr Blackwood said the Drouin public toilets graffiti put people off using the facility.
“The graffiti makes the toilet blocks seem dirty, which puts people off using them,” Cr Blackwood said.
Should the Baw Baw Shire bother paying to clean up graffiti, and should society accept it?
Clean it up
By Rosemary Joiner
Leave it up
By Thomas Gibbons
| WHEN IT COMES to graffiti, Banksy is the exception which proves the rule. |
As an art-lover and a supporter of the arts, it grinds to argue against any craft which has the potential to produce artistic merit.
Undoubtedly, that potential exists in graffiti. The importance and influence of British graffiti artist and political activist, Banksy, are undeniable.
However, in the world of graffiti, we do not have to look far to see evidence that, for every Banksy, there are thousands of vandals who produce nothing but needless ugliness; and a massive clean-up bill.
One study found that across Australia, Local Governments alone spend approximately $260 million annually on graffiti removal.
Imagine how that money could contribute to supporting artists who practise their craft legally.
So as a society, we must ask ourselves the difficult question; is the possibility of producing something with exceptional artistic merit worth the thousands of ugly tags which deface our public spaces?
Is the possibility of a potential Banksy, worth the enormous cost on the public purse?
It’s a difficult question to answer, but the answer must eventually be No.
PRESENTLY, THE BAW Baw Shire council spends upwards of $7,000 a year cleaning up graffiti.
The cleaning of non-offensive graffiti from a lot of surfaces in the area is not only expensive, but unnecessary.
In 2012, graffiti or “street art” has moved beyond being considered by a large percent of the public as just the mindless vandalism of public property, it is a form of expression, a genuine art form.
Famous graffiti artists, like English artist Banksy, have had their works valued in the thousands of dollars.
If people were to stop treating certain kinds of graffiti as an eyesore and began to see them the same way one might treat a painting hanging in a house, we could not only save money on the removal of the works, but also add colour and beauty to what might otherwise be a boring old concrete wall or dingy alleyway.
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