Monday, August 16, 2010


The Wall Street Journal—Ariel Zambelich

In January, the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC) and the Department of Public Works (DPW) started a program called StreetSmARTS. For years, San Francisco had strict laws against graffiti. Although fines and jail time helped decrease vandalism, graffiti was still very common. With this new program, the city is working with street artists and pays them to paint buildings legally.

The program commissions the city’s well-known street artists to create murals on private property, which is “a proven and effective strategy for making property owners less vulnerable to graffiti vandalism,” according to SFAC. StreetSmARTS is modeled after similar projects in New York, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

Francisco Aquino, a San Francisco graffiti painter and StreetSmARTS artist, says that the program “helped draw a more defined line between vandals and artists in the street art community,” and that “older, more-established street artists view graffiti as art and want to persuade the younger artists to join their ranks and create legal murals.”

Read this article for more information.

1 comment:

Lynn Boland said...

Great post! Similar initiatives have done very well in other cities, but I hadn't heard about artists getting paid before now. In case anyone is interested, my favorite street artist is "BLU," who animates his murals (which you can see here: and