Banksy's home city to embrace graffiti art

Mon Sep 14, 2009 10:24am EDT
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By Tim Castle

LONDON (Reuters) - Authorities in the home city of British urban artist Banksy plan to become the first to allow a regular public vote on whether popular works of street graffiti should stay or be removed.

The move by Bristol council in the west of England follows a sell-out Banksy exhibition in the city that attracted 300,000 visitors and boosted the local economy by an estimated 10 million pounds ($17 million).

Councilors are expected to formally adopt the policy in coming weeks, breaking ranks with other authorities in Britain that adopt a no-tolerance attitude to graffiti.

"The policy we had inherited was basically scrub everything off unless (the artists) have got prior permission," said councilor Gary Hopkins, cabinet member for Environment and Community Safety.

Under the new policy, unsightly graffiti will still be removed swiftly, but the council will consult on murals or artwork "deemed to make a positive contribution to the local environment" and where the property owner has no objections.

Some street paintings will be put on a council website so the public can vote on their merits, said Hopkins.

"Anything that is potentially regardable as art, that people might want to keep, we'll potentially put up on the website.

"Some stuff, we wouldn't really need to ask, for completely the opposite reason, because people love it."   Continued...

<p>Graffiti art is seen on a building in the Stokes Croft area of Bristol, September 9, 2009. REUTERS/Phil Noble</p>