Randwick Council has moved to safe guard chalk street art from amended legislation of this year that could also restrict children’s chalk games and rainbow pedestrian crossings daubed by the LGBTI community.
Last Tuesday Councillors voted that,
“…Council resolves not to classify as graffiti designs, messages, or markings made by the use of non-permanent chalk except for offensive material as classified under the law.”
Greens Councillor Matson who moved the motion noted the removal of the rainbow crossings and later said.
“This year political activists have been using chalk as a way of voicing their opinions on a number of issues. The recent ‘rainbow crossings’ were examples of chalking. Six months ago, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay ordered the removal of the Oxford St rainbow crossing in the heart of Sydney’s gay district. This action led to unprecedented numbers of locals chalking rainbow flags on the city’s footpaths in protest.”
Chalk artists have been recent participants in Randwick’s cultural activities such as the yearly Lexington Place busking competition and the Greens want to protect them.
Councillor Matson said,
“As I understand it, regulation made under the amended Act could allow for a Council Officer or a Police Officer to prohibit chalking activities, which could include children’s games like hop scotch and the activities of professional entertainers such as the one who drew entertaining images on the bitumen as part of last year’s Randwick busking competition in Lexington Place.
But Randwick City Council will now not be applying any such regulations against chalking as a result of my motion, although the Police still could.”
Councillor Matson asserts that famous examples of previous chalk art in Sydney could be made illegal by adoption of regulation under the amended legislation. He said,
“Another act of public expression that could now be regarded as illegal would have been the famous chalking by Arthur Stace of the word ‘eternity’ across Sydney from the 1940s to the 1960’s. This act was later commemorated as the graphic in the year 2000 Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks display.”
Background to chalking bans now possible under the amended NSW Graffiti Control Act 2001
Section 6(1) of the Graffiti Control Act 2001 (as amended in 2013) allows a Council to appoint an “authorised person” to enforce the act.
The act under section 3 defines a “graffiti implement” as amongst other things “an implement of a kind prescribed by the regulations“.
Police Officers can still enforce regulations against chalking despite the Randwick City Council resolution not to use Council officers for that purpose.