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Major Tourist Attraction in Decay

By Adrian Doyle

Published: February 22nd 2019

So, over the past six years street art in Melbourne has dropped in quality and quantity.

There are a number of reasons for this, but before I go into them, I would first like to discuss the economy of street art.

I have spent most of my life in and around the different forms of street art. And at the beginning it was a political movement with little paint technology and no commercial interest.

It was mostly middle-class, inner-city design kids that made it an extension of their studio or design practice.

Much has changed since then. The kids have grown up and so has street art.

The most popular and largest art movement in Melbourne has become a major commodity to Melbourne and its reputation.

Having run Melbourne Street Art Tours for nearly 10 years I have seen thousands of domestic and international tourists come to Melbourne purely to see the street art.

I estimate that street art is worth about $72 million dollars to the Victorian economy annually.

It is a major boost to the travel industry, hotels, restaurants and bars. And it’s not surprising why so many people come to Melbourne to enjoy its urban street art and hidden laneways.

The laneways are amazing. They are the cultural veins of an internationally-recognised creative city.

The laneways have been activated with artwork and the public space has transformed into the world’s largest public art gallery. It is an amazing wonderland of creative hidden treasures.

Given the value of street art to the Victorian economy, you would think that over the years the walls would have grown with more art and more quality artists. But a series of bad decisions has let down the people benefiting from the street art economy.

I don’t want to get into the politics, or relationships or what went wrong. What I want this article to do is to let people know how important street art has become to Melbourne and Victoria.

It has helped transform the reputation of Melbourne and it has created its own economy. We look after the penguins and we understand the importance of infrastructure and upgrades along the Great Ocean Road.

We are all happy to promote Melbourne as a street art city in all the tourism advertising, and even on social media. Yet, we are doing nothing to help the ailing laneways, we just exploit the benefits without giving anything back.

People need to realise the importance of street art and unite and begin to fix it before it dies out.

It is so important to Melbourne that we get the laneways looking fresh again. They are such an awesome and transformative part of our city.


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