Painting a brighter future – breaking down barriers with street art

Jarrod Wheatley from Street Art Murals Australia (SAMA) began collaborating with local graffiti artists in the Blue Mountains in 2008. Following a successful Dreamstarter campaign in 2014, Jarrod explains how street art is successfully breaking down barriers and uniting communities.

Jarrod, tell us a bit about SAMA…

SAMA is a social enterprise focused on legitimising street art, as well as including and developing emerging artists. We work with artists along the spectrum – from at risk youth, to emerging talent, through to professional level artists. Since 2008, we’ve painted over 200 professional street art murals for a wide range of public and private clients including Big-Day-Out Music Festival, Amnesty International Australia, and Pfizer. Since our creation, our scope has steadily grown – now we are delivering mural projects, education programs and consultancy all over Australia.

What impact has SAMA had on the artists and the community?

We’ve found that when the community has zero-tolerance, street art activities become marginalised and can lead to criminality and poor quality art in public places. Street Art projects like ours help to break down barriers, creates legal avenues for young people to paint and increases the general quality of street art.

We find ways to bring artists and the community together, to demonstrate the positive economic and social impact that   street art can bring to a community. When the community comes to see the artists painting, it puts a human face to the artists and their work. The artists also get validation when the community enjoys their art. Some artists get 98% approval from community surveys for their murals. Social inclusion is at the heart of it.

What’s next on the horizon?

We are about the launch the Street Art Walk in Katoomba. We’re working with 8 local emerging artists, as well as master street artists from around Australia and overseas, to design and paint 30 mural sites, many of them three stories high. The festival will run from 17th – 24th of June, with the 20th of June being the biggest day for the attraction. The Blue Mountains cultural centre will be curating the attraction, which will be in Beverly Place, Katoomba. The Council are very supportive.

A year on from Dreamstarter, how would you summarise your crowdfunding experience?

It’s been an incredible ride and has given us such momentum. When crowdfunding we were forced to get the word out to engage the community so they would support our concept for the Street Art Walk.  Dreamstarter contributed funds at the start which kick the project off and encouraged the rest of the community to get on board and contribute financially. If we had just received a straightforward donation at the start, we wouldn’t have had the buy in from the community.

Since the crowdfunding, other partners and supporters have come forward. Once you have momentum it gets bigger and bigger.

NG DIRECT’s Dreamstarter initiative provides funding support to selected StartSomeGood campaigns and helps Australia’s most inspiring go-getters make a positive change in Australian communities. To find out more about the program visit ingdirect.com.au/dreamstarter

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