Public to decide if graffiti is art? (Wednesday 2 September 2009)

compiled by Niamh Dunphy
A public vote will be put forth by the Bristol City Council to determine whether murals appearing on buildings and walls around the city will be classified as street art or graffiti.
As part of the policy, Bristol council's street cleaners will not take action if the public decide the graffiti is good enough to keep.
 The graffiti by Banksy that sparked public debate whether it was art or vandalism in 2005; image held here
The graffiti by Banksy that sparked public debate whether it was art or vandalism in 2005; image held here

The debate was prompted by a Banksy work that appeared on a council-owned building in 2005.  The work shows a naked man hanging from a window while his lover's partner looks for him.  The council set up an on-line poll which resulted in 93% of people wanting to keep it.
The vote will now be extended to all street art across the city; however, offensive and disagreeable graffiti will be removed by the council.
According to the plan, the council will not remove the graffiti if the public sees it as a "positive contribution to the local environment" and if the property owner has no objections.
Bristol City Council have faced embarrassment in the past after street cleaners covered a 10-year-old Banksy, worth £100,000 in March 2007, in black paint.  The public was outraged and as a result, all Banksy works are to be preserved.
 The Bristol Museum vs Banksy show that people have queued for hours to see; image held here
The Bristol Museum vs Banksy show that people have queued for hours to see; image held here

Last June, the exhibition Bristol Museum vs Banksy opened with huge success.  With over 250,000 people came to see the show, often queuing for hours.  The cheeky graffiti artist mixed his own work with the museum's collection.
Bristol Council will consider the graffiti-saving proposal on 15 September.
Sources: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-reviews/5542684/Banksy-versus-Bristol-Museum-review.html, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6116779/Is-graffiti-art-Public-to-decide.html