Council, business disagree over street art and graffiti

13 Mar
GC Compound street art program in the works. Picture supplied by GC Compound, courtesy of Tom Herzog

GC Compound street art program in the works. Picture supplied by GC Compound, courtesy of Tom Herzog

By Amy McGinty, Bond University Journalism Student

A council crackdown on graffiti has blocked a private program that encourages kids off the streets to develop their art legally.

Tom Herzog, founder and director of extreme sport business GC Compound, has sought support and funding for the program in a bid to promote legal options for street artists.

The program has been developed as anti-graffiti education aimed at providing a supportive platform for artists to practise and showcase their work.

“The program focuses on eliminating the need for illegal graffiti, which in turn could be saving the council and local business money,” he said.

“My approach is to use education and provide opportunities for these young people that are interested in street art to do it in a legal way.”

The program also offers art workshops to local schools to educate young children how to be a responsible artist.

“If we can provide them with a venue where they can do graffiti on a monthly basis and it’s seen, they could then sell their artwork and the money could go to charity,” said Mr Herzog.

However, deputy mayor and division one councilor Donna Gates is firm about stamping out graffiti in a bid to remove vandalism and saving ratepayer money.

“The cost on public infrastructure is substantial, last year we spent over $1.3 million on graffiti clean up,” she said.

The implementation of a GCCC mobile app that allows residents to report graffiti through their mobile devices has seen a significant drop in reported vandalism.

“We are trying to promote a clean and tidy city and through the success of the GCCC app we are seeing less and less reports of graffiti,” said Cr Gates.

When asked about the defining difference between graffiti and street art Cr Gates agreed there was a difference between the two but the allocation of graffiti walls had not deterred vandalism on the Gold Coast.

“Graffiti just leads to other criminal acts,” Cr Gates said.

Mr Herzog will continue to push for the program to be accepted by the council.

“I’ve talked to these young people, they say they’re sick of doing illegal stuff, they just want to do their art,” he said.

Cr Gates said there would be no leniency for the program from the council as she must think of how ratepayer money is distributed.

“There is a big difference in public and private land and how rate payers’ money should be allocated,” Cr Gates said.

Cr Gates did  have positive feedback on the work that Mr Herzog does as a business leader in the community.

“I have nothing but praise for Mr Herzog and the facility he has created for the community,” she said.

“We are just unable to see eye to eye on this project.”

For more information about GC Compound and the street art program visit www.gccompound.com.

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