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News - 8 November 2004

Young offenders create a mural – but will it stop the decline?

The Artscape Project, working with a team of young offenders, has recently completed a mural in Richmond Place. It’s a great way to get young offenders off the streets and doing something creative within the bounds of the law…but does it reduce the graffiti problem or add to it?

The wall on the Phoenix Estate just off the London Road has been a hot target for graffiti vandalism for a long time. The new mural has transformed the wall in question but unfortunately has had no positive effect on the graffiti problem in the immediate vicinity or in the city at large.

Paul Tilley, Estates Officer for Phoenix Estate said, “In view of the previous condition of the wall the mural has improved the space no end and will hopefully act as a spring-board for future beneficial artworks in our area”.

Martin Middleton, Artscape trainer believes that, “Taggers respect quality artwork and will generally not vandalise a nice piece of work.” However, the effect of murals on tagging in the city in general has never been measured. It is likely that taggers are merely displaced to the next available wall.

Soozie Campbell, city centre manager said, “The Business Forum is looking for ways to stop graffiti vandals from attacking walls without permission. We are always interested in new initiatives and I think that Martin is doing some great work with young people. But I am yet to be convinced that murals give out the right message. I think we need to do some research before we consider using them as part of our anti-graffiti stategy.”

Artscape has completed eight murals in Brighton including works on the Open market and Brighton Magistrates Court.

Martin Middleton, Artscape trainer, said, "It is our hope that by engaging young offenders from the Tarner/Richmond place area in a positive public art project like this we can generate positive community attitudes towards young people whilst improving the look of the area for all."

After 3 years of running the project in partnership with the Youth Offending Team in Brighton & Hove, Crawley and Littlehampton Martin Middleton is currently seeking funding to continue the Artscape Project.

Read related items on:
Anti-social behaviour
Artscape Project
Phoenix Estate
Phoenix Estate

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