Recently, there have been a number of social media posts, as well as a letter to the Editor in the May 31st edition of the PNR, expressing concern with the Town’s decision to prohibit graffiti in the new skatepark at Tulista. It has been suggested that the Town has made this decision as a result of concerns raised by “a few” residents that perceive graffiti as a blight on the surrounding community. It has even been suggested that the Town does not support self-expression and creativity, in particular amongst our youth.
Questions such as “What is the harm in continuing to provide a canvas for young people to showcase their graffiti art among their peers?” and, “Is graffiti art not part of skate culture?” have been expressed several times and, indeed, they are questions that Town staff have also pondered. The answer to our questions, however, came from a surprising source; some folks that have true “street cred” – those seasoned current and ex-skaters that design and build these amazing facilities all over North America – New Line Skatepark Inc. These are the very same dudes that designed and built our awesome skatepark in Tulista.
According to New Line, the principal reason for not allowing graffiti to take hold within a new skatepark is that, once established, the paint creates a slick sheen on the surface of the concrete that makes it significantly more dangerous to skate on. They further indicate that serious skaters may in fact avoid graffiti painted parks for this very reason. In addition, an abundance of graffiti can hamper a skater’s depth perception under certain lighting conditions or in long shadows of the late day, again making it less than ideal for executing that perfect inward heel flip or 50-50 grind. Finally, once graffiti is established and takes a foothold in a skatepark, it can be very challenging to control what’s permissible – i.e. graffiti art versus tagging. Unfortunately, each and every time tagging occurs, it must be removed from the skatepark by various methods, including steam cleaning, power washing and chemical treatments. All of these approaches have a cumulative impact in eroding the skating surface and making it dangerous for skaters.
So the real message here is that the Town does, in fact, appreciate and consider graffiti to be a true expression of art, but it needs to happen on the appropriate canvas. As such, we would like to suggest and encourage our local arts community to perhaps spearhead a project (such as a dedicated graffiti wall) that would inspire and foster this amazing art form.