After an announcement regarding the much reproached Community and Graffiti Transformation Program, Ford has emphasized the importance of working with youth to help promote the creation of street art in the urban communities. Business leaders will be helping disadvantaged youth spray murals for the purpose of replacing gang-related graffiti.
It seems ambitious, but is the pro-art movement truly solid or is there reluctance to get started? Councilor Glenn Baeremaeker was shocked at the outcome, initially thinking of program as being a crackdown directly related to graffiti removal. Prior to the final announcement, Ford posed with a power washer in a photo-op, leading city members to think the meeting would stigmatize street art and lead to an overall wipe-out of street art in large areas throughout many communities. To the surprise of both board members and Torontonians alike, the program proved to have a more harmonious undertone.
WHAT STAY’S AND WHAT GOES?
While pressure washing is a part of the graffiti removal plan, areas that are designated to promote street art will be preserved, but other areas will be power washed to remove the remaining graffiti. According to Ben Spurr of Now News “the city intends to compile a database of protected street art and designated graffiti areas, including as much information as possible about the artists themselves. The existing Community and Graffiti Transformation Program, which gives money to art organizations to hire youth to both remove graffiti and create their own public art, would be expanded.”
By partnering with Crime Prevention Association of Toronto (CPAT), the city will continue it’s mission to work with artists to both promote relevant art, as well as determine what is or is not appropriate. The bottom line will be consent from business owners since street art may harm a businesses reputation, but overall, murals will be a focal point in certain areas. Power washing and white washing will be of central focus for other areas, such as alleys near Queen and Spadina, but the mission will seek to bind differences in the art and business community.
IS THE PROGRAM BENEFICIAL OR DAMAGING?
Overall, the Community and Graffiti Transformation Program gives the municipality power to determine where certain art lies and the actions to be taken, so it really depends. The issues is rather grey, but the allowance for art in certain niches will be beneficial to underground artists or graffiti artists that fear persecution for the art they enjoy.
By giving a voice and an outlet to the youth that may have a limited future in low-income areas, mayor Ford hopes to give a more expressive career path to blossoming painters. Certain artists have been convicted in the past, but from programs such as the Community and Graffiti Transformation Program, they were given chances to work with large corporations to spread their art for large audiences.
As Cruz1, a commissioned artist for both Bell and Holt Renfrew, notes “I think at the end of the day everybody’s just trying to bridge some form of understanding, to form some sort of positive solution.”
As the program unfolds, hopefully there will be more chances for youth at risk and underground artists to express themselves, leaving illegal spray painting out the picture. Giving someone an outlet can make all the difference in their future.
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Spurr, B. (2013). Graffiti allies: Ford administration says new graffiti plan will preserve public art, but is it just lip service?. Retrieved from http:// nowtoronto.com/news/story.cfm?content=181568