Street art site gets re-painted at the underpass of Badimara and Nemarang street in Waramanga. Steve Boles of Techni-Clean. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
Ten years after it established legal graffiti sites around the capital, the ACT government is looking to inject new life into Canberra's street art.
Five of the ACT's 26 legal graffiti art sites will be repainted this week to provide Canberran street artists with ''a blank canvas'', according to Territory and Municipal Services place management manager Steve Amos.
''Many of these sites have been in use for almost a decade now, which means that probably hundreds of artists have been and worked there. Some of them are starting to get a bit rundown,'' he said.
''We want to make sure that new street artists have the same opportunity to showcase their artwork as those who started out 10 years ago did.''
The government will also welcome community proposals for locations that could be converted into legal graffiti sites in the coming months.
''We're always really happy to turn the right spots into a place where local street artists can do their work,'' Mr Amos said.
The ACT government established the first legal graffiti sites to try to tackle widespread vandalism across the territory.
Since then, numerous underpasses, drains, and public toilet blocks have been legally reappropriated for graffiti.
Australian Institute of Criminology deputy director Rick Brown said that legal graffiti sites had traditionally had little success in reducing rates of vandalism.
''By and large, people who are going around tagging and vandalising property are motivated by the illegality of their behaviour,'' he said.
''It's not about self-expression, as street or urban art may be, it's about getting a thrill from committing a crime and damaging things.''
A recent AIC report found that legal graffiti sites would do little to discourage vandalism by ''taggers''.
But local street artist Geoff Filmer said that even if the sites had failed to stop vandalism around the territory, they had, at least, made an enormous difference in the lives of many troubled young Canberrans.
''These are one of the only places where anyone can go and express themselves without being judged or picked on,'' he said.
''It's amazing how quickly you see kids stop worrying about being hardcore or angsty when they just get into creating beautiful things.''
Mr Filmer also believed the legal sites were helping shift public opinion surrounding graffiti.
''Street art is now being seen the way it should be - as art, not vandalism,'' he said.
''It's just fantastic how all these drainways and walkways have been turned into outdoor galleries curated by our community.
''They're something everyone in Canberra can enjoy just while they're out on their morning walk.''