Graffiti art classes aim to put the can on vandalism curse
A NEW approach to tackling youth vandalism is set to be pioneered in Edinburgh - classes in graffiti.
A professional graffiti artist is being brought in by an arts centre for young people in Wester Hailes to give teenagers a chance to develop their artistic talents in a positive, and legal, way.
Organisers say they will target groups involved in antisocial behaviour and hope that taking part will help prevent future graffiti problems in the area.
Rather than spray-painting on to walls illegally, they will be given boards at the centre to work on.
Police say they will take advantage of the classes by referring troubled teenagers to them.
Alison Reeves, a youth officer and researcher at the Whale arts agency, said: "We have found that when young people work with the arts it can be very beneficial, allowing them to gain good social skills and really focus on something.
"We are not worried they'll take this outside the centre, because we're trying to show there's no point getting in trouble when you can do it here."
Chris Young, the Leith-based graffiti artist who will teach the classes, said: "It is art. The only difference is that you use a spray can rather than a brush.
"But it's something young people get a lot more excited about and you can produce something fairly quickly.
"It's so far removed from other graffiti and it actually stops kids getting in trouble for it on the street. In more than 20 years I've never known anyone learn this from me then go about and do it in public later."
The two-hour long graffiti art classes will run on Wednesday and Friday evenings for four weeks from October 25, at 6pm. From November 22, Scottish Youth Dance will be providing a dancer for a further four weeks of classes on breakdancing.
The courses are being run until Christmas after Whale received 6400 of funding by the Edinburgh Community Safety Partnership's local initiatives fund.
Local police officers have welcomed the course. Chief Inspector John Hawkins, who is based at Wester Hailes police station, said: "It is a fantastic development and we will be very supportive. Developments like this mean we can have a real conversation with young people on the street who are involved in graffiti and refer them to the centre.
"A number of people have been charged recently in Wester Hailes because they have been spray-painting where they shouldn't, so it will make a real difference if we can now say they can go to a place like this instead."
And Councillor Brian Fallon, who represents the Murrayburn ward that Whale falls within, added: "Thankfully graffiti is not as much a problem as it has been in the past because the police, council and community groups have taken some positive steps to start to address the issue.
"But that's not to say it doesn't exist and a programme of events like this is great and will help to get young people doing something good and positive."
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