11 March 2008
A recent scheme entitled "Don't spray it to say it!" aimed at tackling the current graffiti problem within Caerphilly county borough, has been hailed a resounding success.
Nine local youngsters, aged between 11 and 17, many of whom are involved with the local Youth Offending Service (YOS), took part in the initiative which was held at Cefn Hengoed Youth Centre.
The scheme, which was designed by Freelance Arts Consultant, Cheryl Beer and funded by the Safer Caerphilly Community Safety Partnership, had the primary aim of encouraging youngsters in the area to be creative in ways other than through illegal graffiti.
The course was split into two parts - the first part was very much "classroom" based, and focused on social responsibility and education including literacy sessions and careers guidance. The youngsters learned about the history of art, and in particular they learned extensively about the laws surrounding illegal graffiti, the fact that it is considered to be criminal damage and the impact that graffiti can have on the wider community.
The second part of the course was much more practically orientated, with professional artists Lloyd and Brad on hand to reinforce the message that there are other ways of enjoying art and expressing themselves without resorting to illegal graffiti.
The youngsters were shown professional art techniques and were given large canvasses on which to practice and showcase their artistic talents.
Operational Manager for the YOS, Michaela Rogers said, "The level of quality of the participants artwork is without exception, amazing. I'm thrilled that the youngsters thoroughly enjoyed themselves for the duration of the scheme, but at the same, they learned important lessons about the effects that criminal behaviour such as illegal graffiti has on the wider community."
Youth Offending Service Officer, Gary Meale said, "So successful has the scheme been, we are now looking at ways in which the youngsters can continue with their artistic hobby. It is anticipated that in the very near future, they will have the permission to decorate the walls of nearby youth centres with spray art as a means of continuing with their hobby, legally."
The canvasses, on which the youngsters' artwork is adorned, are to be displayed at an Community Arts Festival in the grounds to the rear of Crosskeys College on Sunday 11th May where their parents and general public can admire their work and see the professional artists in action. It is hoped that by doing this, this will give the youngsters a further sense of pride in their work and will hopefully help to deter them from doing graffiti illegally in future.
One participant for the scheme said, "I've really enjoyed this week - I've learned so many new skills and now appreciate that "tagging" and other forms of graffiti are not really art - what we have learned this week is. It's great that we'll have the opportunity to continue our hobby legally by decorating local youth clubs. I think that if people in the local area had a designated place where they could go to do their hobby legally, the graffiti problem in the area would really decrease."
Safer Caerphilly County Borough is a multi-agency organisation whose five statutory organisations are Caerphilly County Borough Council, Gwent Police, Caerphilly Local Health Board, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and Gwent Police Authority. It works to combat crime, anti-social behaviour and the fear of crime in the local area.
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