I recently found out that the CANCELLED stickers I keep seeing on posters around Glasgow are an initiative by the Anti Graffiti team in Glasgow City Council.
I think this scheme is completely insane. First of all, is there any real to tackle ‘fly posting’? Is there? In my view, they are a really interesting and vibrant part of the city. They make boring walls look more interesting and brighten the place up. They change really often so your never bored of them. Its hard not to admire some of the work that goes into these posters. The just brighten the boring bus journeys up on the route to town by a mile. It also helps, from a music journalist point of view, to be able to see who is playing, who is doing well, who is moved up or down in the world by the venue/price they are at.
Graphic Designers go to college and Uni for years to learn how to make these posters. There isn’t a lot of companys in this city to provide jobs for all the students coming out of these courses so alot of them will inevitably end up doing this sort of work. If the council make it their mission to destroy the practice, they are putting a lot of people out of work. Isn’t that less tax being paid? Also, i think a BIG part of this campaign is because a lot of the people who put these posters up are doing it casual, ie, not paying tax. So really its just a way of cracking down on that.
Back to my real point. IS it really a problem? Sometimes when looking at a social problem we have to consider IF it really is a social problem and who may be gaining from the construction of the issue as a social problem. This is called ‘constructionist’(1) and its the theory of why social problems are regarded as such rather than the ‘objectivist’ (2) approach which simply accepts that it is a problem and seeks to find solutions.
As I said, its largely decorative and I dont think most people see it as a problem. I hang out with a lot of musicians and as someone who has been involved in music journalism I might be biased. It doesn’t really harm anyone does it? And as I pointed out if provides hundreds of people with employment.
Yet Glasgow City Council admits,
Staff who patrol the city every working day spotting new posters and marking them are now a central part of the council’s £100,000 a year war on flyposting.
£100,000? So here we have GCC employing a team of people who are employed, probably a pretty good wage, to ‘tackle’ something which isn’t really the most pressing of issues is it? £100,000 could have went on other things really. How about more community care grants for those who need help with basic furnishings? Again, they have an interest in portraying posters as a problem because it pays their wages doesn’t it?
They also admit that they are the ones making the mess by replacing a fancy, interesting poster with a messy paint slap,
“..there’s no point getting in a designer to produce a fancy poster when it will soon be a mess that doesn’t tell anyone anything.”
I think GCC need to quit with this slightly over the top shceme, stop throwing money at it and accept it. Then they could start to put that money and those rescources towards something more beneficial to the people of Glasgow.
Thats just my humble opinion of course. If you think differently then say why.
1) Spector and Kitsuse (1977)
2) Schneider (1985)