The current situation

Currently the number of young people becoming socially excluded through truancy, suspension from school
and anti-social behaviour is increasing. Once a young person is removed from education, they have no structure
to work within, no goals and more often than not end up on the streets with nothing to do.

Many ex-pupils are not provided with educational alternatives or help with their personal issues as government
agencies have few options available to them.

This is a sure recipe for a young person to become involved in drugs or alcohol abuse, anti-social behaviour and
criminal activity. Without a positive challenging and supportive environment for young people to apply themselves
and develop a sense of self worth, personal confidence and social skills, these youngsters will get trapped in an
extremely negative downwards spiral.

There are project/schemes available but none offer art and design with all the benefits of addressing the issues
facing young people being re-integrated into society after a custodial sentence. Young people are very visually
aware and arts based projects will bring them back into a learning environment.

Graffiti is a crime which costs just the London Borough of Newham alone around £127,000 per annum to clear up.

The role of the Arts

Recently there has been an awakening about the role that the arts play, and the important impact they can have
with the rehabilitation and tackling of youth crime. In March 2002 the Youth Justice Board and the Arts Council
of England held a conference at the Tate Modern in London entitled "Including the Arts (preventing youth
offending)". One of the Key speakers at the conference, Tessa Jowell MP said:

"We already know the ingredients that make up the reasons why a young person turns to crime. They include
having no role models, no self-respect, no self-discipline and nothing better to do... A growing body of evidence
points to the benefits of the arts based initiatives in the criminal justice system."

Also, Trevor Blackman - NDC Play/Youth Strategic Development Manager says:

"New ways of delivering youth provision must be implemented, and innovative projects that are based at times
on the 'wants', and more importantly the 'needs' of young people should be actioned (and have their input at every
stage of the developmental procedure). Then and only then, we can truly say we have included young people in
the whole regenerational process".

Why graffiti

Over the past years there has been an awakening about the role that the arts play and the important impact they can have when engaging with the youth. As well as with sports, art gives them all the tools they need to make a success of their lives and keep them off crime and trouble. The arts and sports encourage young people to make choices, decisions and personal statements, to have enthusiasm, to take risks and to take responsibility. These skills don't just develop creativity but can improve the chances of employment.

Graffiti is not just about writing on walls. Graffiti murals are a form of artistic expression by which the artist expresses his understanding of his persona in relation with the community that surrounds him/her. It builds community sense of belonging by creating an awareness of location, time, and audience

Graffiti is not a “quick and dirty” form of expression. Responsible murals require preliminary stages of research, collaboration, debate, composition, planning, responsibility and team work.

A graffiti mural is not just a drawing on a wall. It is the results of a collaborative effort of a team of young people working together towards a common goal. It is the result of applying a new set of skills. It is an immense sense of pride to feel part of a project and to see the results of the work displayed to a broader audience, the community that surrounds the artist.

OnTheLevel Productions delivers high quality graffiti workshops where the young people’s experience and engagement is the utmost priority. Our team of social workers and graffiti artists take each group of young people through the whole experience of creating a collaborative mural, from generation of ideas to conception, production and community awareness.