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Friday, 16 January 2009 03:34

Los Angeles is now considered a creative capital of the world. Thousands supported MOCA in its time of need, symbolizing the importance of this reputation to LA's population.

However, the youth of the city, who make up 1/3 of its entire population, receive little or no arts education in schools, while LAUSD spends 15 million dollars per year on graffiti abatement.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles' murals are in a state of blight.

The two are not mutually exclusive and both detract from the beauty of the city, discouraging tourism.

If the young are not given the opportunity to express themselves creatively, they will take it. And instead of drawing on paper, sculpting with clay or legally painting murals (this includes the legal graffiti art of the former Venice Graffiti Pit or the Belmont Tunnel), many will mark on the city's walls illegally, particularly those which they know will not be painted over.

LA County allocates 35 million dollars per year to graffiti abatement. In addition to these and LAUSD abatement monies, the MTA spends 12 million dollars per year and LA Public Works spends 7 Million per year, making the county's grand total a staggering 70 million dollars (not to mention law enforcement costs). Despite the enormous budget, removing graffiti from murals is not included, as removing graffiti from a mural is not as simple as whitewashing over it. This makes murals popular targets for taggers.

We are at the dawn of a new era. Our president-elect is from a grassroots background. It is possible that he will appoint a Secretary of the Arts. We have an opportunity here to advocate for a Works Progress Act in the 21st century, creating jobs in the arts that will jump-start the economy, which has fallen into a recession. SPARC proposes a mural-graffiti removal program as part of LA's New Deal. By training youth to protect, repair and restore the murals of Los Angeles we also protect, repair and restore the economy. The jobs that will be created with a fraction of countywide graffiti moneys will also educate and employ youth that would, perhaps, otherwise be tagging. It is a necessary element that is missing from current graffiti-abatement programs: reeducation and redirection.

We request that you support us in asking Villaraigosa to reallocate 10% of the city's graffiti abatement budget to SPARC's Mural Rescue Program. This 10% will allow LA murals to be cleaned of graffiti and preserved through the establishment of a "mural hotline" and "mural ambulance" and training of youth in mural-graffiti removal and mural restoration. It will also assist city infrastructure by creating jobs for youth, youth that would, perhaps, otherwise be tagging in their spare time.

Sign the Petition