BEAT THE GRAF­FITI

Go West: Call to cre­ate a safe space for artists to spray away

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - FRONT PAGE - Elisha Pearce

BUSI­NESS oper­a­tors in Emer­ton shop­ping precinct are fight­ing graf­fiti by look­ing at ways to en­cour­age creative art in a safe space.

The cen­tre has up to 150 graf­fiti in­ci­dents a year and spends $30,000 on its re­moval.

Tired of the van­dal­ism, Homer’s take­away shop man­ager Chris Kyria-con sug­gested busi­nesses and Black­town Coun­cil put to­gether a pro­gram that pro­vides spe­cific space for graf­fiti artists. “Oth­er­wise, they will keep on do­ing it,” he said.

Black­town Coun­cil has ded­i­cated $1.2 mil­lion to graf­fiti re­moval and de­ter­rence this year.

THE Emer­ton re­tail precinct is in the grip of a graf­fiti epi­demic.

No sooner than graf­fiti is cleaned, some­one sprays an­other eye­sore.

Own­ers and ten­ants in the shop­ping precinct say team­work and creative think­ing is re­quired.

Busi­ness peo­ple say set­ting up des­ig­nated walls for graf­fiti artists could co-opt them into car­ing for the shop­ping precinct, rather than van­dal­is­ing it.

Iron Gym Fit­ness Cen­tre man­ager Aroha Herkt said a per­sonal trainer at the com­pany had de­cided to clean the graf­fiti and rub­bish, but the sight of nee­dles as well forced him to call Black­town Coun­cil for help.

“There’s a lot of graf­fiti all around this shop­ping cen­tre. It makes it less en­tic­ing for peo­ple to come in,’’ Ms Herkt said.

Emer­ton Vil­lage shop­ping cen­tre ex­pe­ri­ences up to 150 graf­fiti in­ci­dents a year and spends $30,000 on paint­ing over sprayed walls and win­dows. Ten­ants in the cen­tre foot the bill through rent.

Emer­ton Vil­lage man­ager Mark Arm­strong said a fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance would be ap­pre­ci­ated.

“We would be happy if Black­town Coun­cil pitched in money to help cover the cost of clean­ing up,’’ he said.

Other busi­ness man­agers in the precinct are look­ing at ways to en­cour­age creative art in a safe space.

Homer’s burger and take­away shop man­ager Chris Kyr­i­a­con said graf­fiti was a “weekly” oc­cur­rence, and he fac­tored the clean-up into his busi­ness.

Mr Kyr­i­a­con sug­gested busi­nesses and coun­cil put a pro­gram to­gether that al­lows spe­cific space for young peo­ple to make graf­fiti art.

“[Oth­er­wise] they will keep on do­ing it,” he said.

There’s a lot of graf­fiti all around ... It makes it less en­tic­ing for peo­ple to come in

Black­town Coun­cil has ded­i­cated $1.2 mil­lion to graf­fiti re­moval and de­ter­rence this year, but isn’t re­spon­si­ble for clean­ing graf­fiti on the pri­vately owned shop­ping cen­tre.

Mr Kyr­i­a­con said sim­i­lar pro­grams in other coun­cil ar­eas were suc­cess­ful.

“It’s in­ter­est­ing that if some­one does graf­fiti that looks arty, oth­ers don’t go and graf­fiti over it,’’ he said.

A Black­town Coun­cil spokes­woman said it en­cour­aged young peo­ple to stop il­le­gal graf­fiti and work with police to iden­tify re­peat graf­fiti of­fend­ers.

Coun­cil also pro­vided free graf­fiti ma­te­ri­als to vol­un­teers and com­mu­nity groups in­clud­ing a volunteer graf­fiti re­moval trailer.

Busi­ness own­ers at Emer­ton Vil­lage shop­ping precinct are fight­ing a tough bat­tle with on­go­ing graf­fiti while shop man­ager Chris Kyr­i­a­con (right) is keen for a long-term so­lu­tion.

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