Anti-graffiti coursework starts in schools 

There’s a big difference between art and vandalism – and the former is certainly more productive than the latter.

That’s the key lesson in new anti-graffiti courses being implemented at six San Francisco Unified School District schools.

The new curriculum is aimed at teaching students between grades four and six the negative effects of graffiti in neighborhoods. The idea is to redirect the creative energy that would go into tagging a bus shelter into the creation of artwork that doesn’t cost millions of dollars in taxpayer money to clean up, according to the San Francisco Arts Commission.

The City spends more than $20 million annually cleaning up graffiti, according to estimates.

The Arts Commission is piloting the program alongside the Department of Public Works, the agency that is responsible for cleaning graffiti off city property.

Class instruction kicks off today at Jean Parker Elementary School, the Arts Commission said. Three fifth grade classes will participate in an assembly led by artist and community activist Cameron Moberg, who “will teach a series of lessons that combine educational information about illegal vandalism and graffiti with positive artist-led activities.”

Courses will also begin this fall at Paul Revere Elementary School. Four more schools, including Mckinley, Bret Harte, Martin Luther King, Jr. and John Muir, “will begin coursework with urban artists on lessons and mural painting during the spring 2010 semester,” the Arts Commission said in a statement.

The pilot program is formerly called, “Where Art Lives.”

“With our very limited budget, it has been extremely difficult for the Arts Commission to respond to the unprecedented increase of graffiti and vandalism on The City’s public monuments over the last couple of years,” said Luis R. Cancel, director of Cultural Affairs for the San Francisco Arts Commission, in a statement.
 

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