UrbanArts received more than $23,000  from the city of Toronto to run a graffiti cleanup and mural painting program this summer.
The city has been funding graffiti and tag-removal projects since 1996; last year, 100 young people were employed by the Graffiti Transformation program. According to the city, the program targets “marginalized youth who face multiple barriers to employment.” The young people are trained in materials and workplace safety and, according to the city, for many the graffiti transformation project “is their first paid work experience”.
There are two benefits to the program. First, the murals discourage vandals and taggers. The programs also integrate the mural artists into their communities by giving them something they, and the community, can be proud of. They give the artists a stake in their neighbourhood.
Last year, UrbanArts painted two murals and received $22,950 in funding.This year they applied for a 26% increase, but the city turned it down and granted only a 2% increase.
UrbanArts was a little fortunate, however; many communities are interested in the graffiti removal program, but there was no money to expand it this year.
 Whoops. I thought the Community Development and Recreation Committee had the authority to grant this money. City Council will be voting on the issue today and tomorrow.