What strategies have public art programs used to discourage graffiti, defacement, or other crimes that affect public art?
Public art can help foster a sense of community and local pride, and is regularly used as a revitalizing agent, all of which may help reduce overall levels of crime and graffiti. However, it can also be a target for taggers or others wishing to mar public spaces. With that in mind, public art programs should consider the potential for damage to an artwork and plan accordingly. This may result in “hardening” a target by making it less physically accessible, using anti-graffiti coatings, or encouraging artists to use materials that are naturally resistant to common graffiti tools, like paint markers and spray cans. Additionally, public art programs have found it beneficial to develop relationships with nearby businesses, which can alert them to any damage to an artwork quickly after it has occurred and so facilitate a speedy cleanup effort. Graffiti often begets graffiti (the “Broken Windows” theory), and so quickly addressing damage can help discourage further damage. Likewise, common sense precautions like adequate lighting, security cameras, and enlisting the help of public or private security officials can help address persistent sources of damage, should that be an ongoing concern.