Graffiti & tagging.
GRAFFITI – THE SCOURGE OF FITZROY! ?
Yarra Council has confirmed the fears of Fitzroy residents — the scourge of mindless graffiti (tagging) is increasing throughout Melbourne’s oldest suburb.
We are not talking about the ‘street art” that adorns the walls of many buildings and brightens otherwise drab streets and alleys in the City of Yarra. The graffiti that is detested by those with office buildings, shopkeepers and householders alike is ‘tagging’ — the spray-painted or highlighted names, initials and general scrawl that can only be described as vandalism.
Such initials as “DN” – which are those of a “graffer” calling himself “Dick Nose” and messages advising that “Sam is a Gay Dog” cannot be labeled as Art!
Yarra Council now has to deal with an average of 80 to 100 requests a month for the removal of this illegal grafitti — and the removal of unwanted posters that have also proliferated in Fitzroy — particularly along Brunswick Street.
The worst month for Fitzroy was in July this year when 146 such requests were made. A year ago, the monthly average monthly requests for removal of unsolicited grafitti and posters was in the 70’s.
Second to Fitzroy in the Yarra areas to be affected by graffiti bandits is Richmond, then North Carlton third, followed by Collingwood and North Fitzroy ahead of Abbotsford and Clifton Hill. The districts of Alphington, Burnley, Cremorne, Fairfield and Princes Hill get off lightly in comparison to the others.
Yarra Council’s budget for removing just some of the unsightly graffiti and unwanted posters in 2010 is $495,000 – up from the $50,000 spent on removal just four years ago. This is far below the $7 million it cost the Melbourne City Council in clean-up costs last year but, if the ugly trend in Fitzroy continues, this would not appear to be enough to cope.
Kim O’Connor, Yarra’s Manager of Engineering Operations, has five persons split into three teams that go out daily to deal with requests for removing grafitti. He says the Council is hamstrung in taking a more proactive role as, in the past when his workers have simply removed grafitti writing, building owners have complained about “damage.”
O’Connor agrees that the sooner you remove graffiti after it appears, the less likely it is to reoccur but getting some residents in Fitzroy to keep their property free of graffiti can be a problem.
He cites one building, a converted former industrial site, that is covered with tags and scrawl which would cost $25,000 to remove. The Council is reluctant to do so as the present owner refuses to agree to keep it clean in the future.
Yarra Council has an enthusiastic Youth Arts Officer in Adrian Doyle, who attempts to give “graffers” the opportunity to contribute to producing legal public arts works. But the number of youths who seem to revel in anti-social behaviour, and who have no sense of community values in defacing the walls of the area, appears to be far greater.
No statistics are readily available on the number of young people convicted of grafitti- related crimes in the Fitzroy disctrict but Victoria police say the number convicted throught Melbourne has increased by 17 percent.
Kim O’Connor again urges FRA members to get together on identifying areas troubled by illegal graffiti so that the Council can remove it and, with the participation of residents, manage to keep the buildings grafitti-free.
Council has had success with this model in Collingwood, he says, and the statistics would seem to confirm this.
Any isssues, call the the council and / or police to report it.