Most cities, when they have a graffiti “problem,” they bring out the buff squad and say “Go crazy. If it’s graffiti, buff it ASAP.” The most obvious problem with that strategy is that legal graffiti and street art gets buffed, as well as graffiti and street art that people like.
Although it’s been an informal policy in Bristol and parts of London for a while now, Bristol is officially modifying their graffiti buffing policy to accommodate art that people want to keep up. Soon, the council website will have a voting area where photos of graffiti and street art art published and the public will be able to vote for which pieces they like and which should be removed. That’s a lot of respect from the council for something that is still technically illegal.
From The Guardian:
For some it is simply an eyesore, but for others graffiti has as much worth as an old master. In Bristol, reputed home of Banksy, the street artist who has done more than any other to elevate graffiti off concrete walls and into galleries, the question is to be settled by the public.
Bristol city council is planning to let the public vote before murals on buildings, walls and fences are scrubbed clean or painted over. If citizens decide they like it, the work will remain.
The move comes as the “Banksy v Bristol Museum” exhibition in the city closedtoday having attracted more than 300,000 visitors since June. Queues for admission were up to six hours long over the Bank Holiday weekend.
As part of its formal street-art policy “to seek to define and support the display of public art”, the council is pledging “where people tell us that murals or artworks make a positive contribution to the local environment, and where the property owner has raised no objection” the graffiti will not be removed.
Photographs will be posted on the council’s website and the public asked to voice their opinions.
The policy was created after a Banksy work, showing a naked man hanging out of a window while his lover’s partner looks for him, appeared on a council-owned building in 2005, sparking debate over whether it should be removed.
The council set up an online poll, with 93% of those voting saying they wanted to keep it.