Graffiti Artists Need Not Apply
A new initiative to commission Vancouver graffiti artists to design a mural for a city-owned warehouse on Central Street in Vancouver has included an interesting caveat: "No active taggers" need apply.
The City of Vancouver Graffiti Management department tonight began circulating a call for artists to apply for the contest, which will distribute $4000 in prizes to 30 artists who will compete in a contest.
The contest is framed on the website against a backdrop of information that includes the assertion that the city's mural program "provides new, legitimate outlets for graffiti writers and other artists to display their work".
While I think that a city-run program geared toward commissioning graffiti artists is a fantastic thing, I do have a few questions about some of the assumptions that seem to be put forward in this context. The first is the concept that the commissioning program award 30 artists $4000, which is a small amount of money for a public art commission, not to mention that it will take place in the form of a contest, so there is no certainty for the participants but is essentially work done on spec.
The second question that it raises to me is this idea that the program is about creating a legitimate venue for graffiti artists and yet actual, practicing graffiti artists are banned at the outset, as they are labelled "active taggers", as though this is something negative.
Why would the city create a legitimate venue for this art if they are not planning to support the artists who are practicing in this field? Are they essentially looking for "graffiti-style" work, rather than work by practicing graffiti artists?
And if the city would like to create a real support structure for artists working with graffiti, I wonder if there is a way to commission it in a framework that is on equal footing to other public art commissions (typically about 1% of the building cost, in the case of new construction.) I know that there is a bit of apples and oranges here, as the site is an existing warehouse rather than a new building, but just to put it in context, the money for this commission would map to a building that costs $400,000. Call it a public art commission suited in scale for a one bedroom studio in Gastown. (Hey what a great idea!)
Perhaps I've got it all wrong. Graffiti is evil and the people who do it are hooligans. So then why is it a worthy medium for a city run public art program?
Call for Entries - 2007 Mural Contest
City of Vancouver Graffiti Management
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Deadline: 4:30 p.m. on Friday , June 22, 2007
30 artists, 6 hours, $4,000 in prizes and ONE HUGE CANVAS! Want
to get in on it? Start sketching!
Here are the rules. Sketches must:
* be on paper no bigger than 11 x 17 inches
* show the theme of Vancouver landmarks
* be submitted no later than 4:30 pm on Friday, June 22, 2007
Send your sketches by mail to:
Graffiti Management Program
Attention: Brian Leonard
211-456 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1R3
Or e-mail a PDF to: firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTE: Submissions by active taggers will not be accepted
The contest location will be a City-owned warehouse on the south
side of 200 Central Street. View the map: