Legal graffiti wall could be here to stay in Sudbury

A legal graffiti program that started as a pilot project in summer of 2018 could become a permanent fixture in downtown Sudbury.

Up Here, an urban art and music festival, requested the pilot project so artists could have a space to legally do graffiti. Not only is it something that has benefited artists, but festival officials said it's also a great scouting tool for talent.

“What the legal graffiti wall has allowed us to do is have our ears to the ground and see all sorts of great local artists who have a space to be able to scale up their work," said Up Here organizer Christian Pelletier.

"For example this year Sarah Dempsey, who’s a local artist who did a new mural above the laughing Buddha. She … did a power up box and then we saw her work go up on the legal graffiti wall where she was trying to scale up her work and when we saw that her work can really scale up nicely, we offered her a bigger wall.”

At its meeting Monday, a planning committee report detailed options for keeping the wall as a permanent place for legal graffiti, and also expand the program by creating a permitting process for legal graffiti walls to be added around the city.

“Sometimes some of the graffiti that happens is unfortunately difficult for the landowner to be able to correct because it's high up on a ladder or different things like that, so maybe an application towards making it a legal graffiti wall then there wouldn’t be a bylaw infraction,” said Ward 6 Coun. René Lapierre.

According to the report, the wall has stopped some illegal tagging, and has mostly been a positive outlet for artists, young and old.

“The success of this project has really just proved that a legal graffiti wall works and we knew it would work," Pelletier said.

"But the pilot project just really made it work and now there’s a desire to do more, which is something we’re really excited about ... more legal graffiti walls throughout the city, so not just downtown, but to do some maybe in some outlying communities."

The proposal for keeping the legal graffiti wall will be presented at an upcoming city council meeting. If approved, Lapierre said issues such as how often the wall should be painted over to create a clean slate will be discussed.