Hosier Lane is an important neighbourhood in the CBD. It has been widely promoted as a destination for tourists by all tiers of government and significant investment made by businesses, residents and government authorities. Recent media coverage has brought attention to the decline in safety and amenity in the lane ways. We want to work with Council on a strategy to address these concerns and development of a coordinated approach to securing the long-term viability of the area for all. We hope to gain support for this initiative from all Mayoral candidates and their teams.
The specific issues of concern to our community of lane way users, the art community, residents, businesses, tourism, et al include:
1. General decline in behaviour
Threats, including needles and other hazards, verbal abuse aimed at residents and tenants trying to access premises.
Break-ins, assaults, threats, damage to property.
Guests and employees being threatened.
Often police do not respond quickly and if they do they are unable to act unless they see a crime occurring.
2. Temporary campsite has negatively impacted the amenity and safety of the area
Increasing homelessness in the city has led to increased numbers seeking access to the services offered here – eg health, washing, social etc.
Needles, garbage and rodents are more prevalent.
Bins damaged, stolen and mis‐used.
3. Decline in quality and relevance of artwork and graffiti
Artists not safe –regularly threatened, attacked and robbed.
Best and more notable artists are no longer interested in painting in Hosier Lane.
Tagging and vandalism has become the norm at expense of works that will be respected.
4. Aggression and threatening behaviour from some individuals and groups
Towards tour groups –school children exposed to dangerous and inappropriate behaviours.
Artists have been threatened and are reluctant to return.
Where to from here?
Cameras (CCTV) should be installed as a priority
Lighting is critical
Lighting should be prioritised and installed immediately.
Bin management procedure reviewed.
Compactors installed and maintained.
Regular co-ordinated patrols
Salvation Army, Police
Investigate potential ‘Lane way Warden’ program.
As a last resort
Implement a complete buff of the lane way.
Implement graffiti removal policy where necessary.
Hosier and Rutledge Lanes continue to attract local, national and international interest with it’s ever increasing foot traffic, street tours, photographers, wedding parties and school excursions. It’s been an unpredictable ride toward a safer and more friendly laneway culture, with the graffiti and arts communities revisiting this well trodden and at times controversial destination.
Much has been written about the pros and cons of street art and graffiti. CBD News has been following the progress of the PaintUp! series, while Black Mark is prolific in writing about his journey seeking out Melbourne’s art and culture. New books such as Street Art Now and Street Art:Melbourne feature the works of street artists as an ongoing record of the fleeting nature of this creative medium.
City councils are becoming more strategic in their approaches to social inclusion, urban amenity and crime prevention. At the core of the Hosier Inc discourse with the users of the laneways has been a belief that creative endeavour outperforms punitive measures – although there is still little research to back these projects. Nonetheless, we have seen a huge increase in public interest, and an accompanying groundswell of foot traffic to the area. If increased traffic is a deterrent to anti-social behaviour, the success of the Hosier Lane experience appears self evident. The flip side of this is benefit is evident in the percentages – larger crowds bring inevitable incidents, irrespective of the numbers.
While Melbourne council City of Yarra considers graffiti tours, the public debate and accompanying backlash needs to be tempered with a discussion about street amenity, safety and aesthetic sensibility. We’ve seen Hosier Lane go through phases of renewal and overpainting, including significant tagging. The outcome is very much in the eye of the beholder – tagging has it’s proponents, street art and murals have their detractors. The discussion around graffiti, street art, writing, stencils, street sculpture, gallery and commercial art generates fervent opinions and responses depending upon who’s talking.
At the end of the day, none of the subjective assessments really matter – our laneway appears to be a much safer, vibrant and enjoyable place to be! Indeed, the street community has embraced the precinct in ways we could never anticipate, such is the unpredictable nature of a vibrant social discourse overlaid upon this uncontrollable landscape. Who knows what the future holds, but we’re pretty sure local, state and federal governments see the value.
Here’s an old piece published by the ABC way back in 2013 – for old times sake!
Earlier this month, at the opening of an exhibition dedicated to his work at Brisbane’s GOMA, David Lynch got stuck into street art, calling it “ugly, stupid, and threatening”. Apparently, shooting movies can be very difficult when the building you want to film is covered in graffiti and you don’t want it to be.
Is there a distinction between art and vandalism? This is the question that always seems to rise up when graffiti becomes a topic of conversation, as it has after Lynch’s outburst. This is, however, not just important for those of us who want to know the answers to obscure questions such as, “what is art?” It affects everyone.
Why? Because graffiti exists in our public spaces, our communities and our streets.
Let’s for a minute put aside the fact that an artist such as David Lynch, known for pushing the envelope in terms of what art is and can be, is criticising one type of art on the grounds that it is inconvenient to the kind of art that he prefers to undertake.
There is something more important to discuss here. The opinion that street art is vandalism (that is, not art) is widely held. Many people despise graffiti – but we are more than happy to line our public spaces with something much more offensive: advertising. That’s the bigger story here, the use and abuse of public space.
At heart, I think this is why people don’t like graffiti. We see it as someone trying to take control of a part of our public space. The problem is, our public spaces are being sold out from under us anyway. If we don’t collectively protect our public spaces, we will lose them.
Two types of graffiti
I would like to make a bold distinction here.
I want to draw out the difference between two kinds of graffiti: street art and vandalism.
We need something to be able to differentiate between Banksy and the kids who draw neon dicks on the back of a bus shelter. They are different, and the difference lies in their intention.
Tagging, the practice of writing your name or handle in prominent or impressive positions, is akin to a dog marking its territory; it’s a pissing contest. It is also an act of ownership. Genuine street art does not aim at ownership, but at capturing and sharing a concept. Street art adds to public discourse by putting something out into the world; it is the start of a conversation.
The ownership of a space that is ingrained in vandalism is not present in street art. In fact, street art has a way of opening up spaces as public. Street art has a way of inviting participation, something that too few public spaces are even capable of.
If vandalism is abhorrent because it attempts to own public space, then advertising is vandalism.
The billboards that line our streets, the banner ads on buses, the pop-ups on websites, the ads on our TVs and radios, buy and sell our public spaces. What longer lasting sex? A tasty beverage? To be young, beautiful, carefree, cutting edge, and happy? For only $24.95 (plus postage)!
Advertising privatises our public spaces. Ads are placed out in the public strategically. They are built to coerce, and manipulate. They affect us, whether we want them to or not. But this is not reciprocated.
We cannot in turn change or alter ads, nor can we communicate with the company who is doing the selling. If street art is the beginning of a conversation, advertising is the end. Stop talking, stop thinking – and buy these shoes!
Ads v graffiti
We are affronted by ads. They tell us we are not enough. Not good enough, not pretty enough, not wealthy enough.
At its worst, graffiti is mildly insulting and can be aesthetically immature. But at its best, it can be the opening of a communal space: a commentary, a conversation, a concept captured in an image on a wall. Genuine street art aims at this ideal.
Street art by Ghostpatrol in Brisbane. Paul Cunningham
At its best, advertising is an effective way of informing the public about products and services. At worst, advertising is a coercive, manipulative form of psychological warfare designed to trick us into buying crap we don’t need with money we don’t have.
What surprises me is that the people who find vandalism in the form of tagging and neon dicks highly offensive have no problem with the uncensored use of our public spaces for the purposes of selling stuff.
What art can do
If art is capable of anything in this world, it is cutting through the dross of everyday existence. Art holds up a mirror to the world so that we can see the absurdity of it. It shows us who we really are, both good and bad, as a community.
Street art has an amazing ability to do this because it exists in our real and everyday world, not vacuum-sealed and shuffled away in a privileged private space. Its very public nature that makes street art unique, powerful, and amazing.
If we as a community can recognise the value in street art, we can begin to address it as a legitimate expression. When we value street art as art, we can engage with it as a community and help to grow it into something beautiful.
When street art has value, our neon dicks stop being a petty and adolescent attempt at ownership, and become mere vandalism. When we value our public spaces as places where the we can share experiences, we will start to see the violence that is advertising as clearly as the dick on the back of a bus shelter.
On 5 February 2013 Melbourne City Council resolved to implement a 12 month project plan in Hosier and Rutledge Lanes in order to address the anti-social behaviour taking place in the lane.
The plan was enacted to trial an alternative approach to the installation of CCTV. Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the approach that has been used to inform the plan. The attached document is the final report for this initiative.
The steering committee was chaired by City of Melbourne and met from March 2013 – March 2014 to oversee the project. Members included City of Melbourne branches (Arts & Culture and Community Safety and Wellbeing), Hosier Inc, Salvation Army Street Teams, Youth Projects, RMIT School of Art and Victoria Police.
Following a media announcement last week featuring the Minister and the owner of the site, most who communicated with the Minister regarding the proposed hotel development in Hosier Lane will have received a letter or email from the Minister’s Dept that indicates it has been approved.
Despite the lack of cover letter, we assume these copies of a notification dated September 1st, are to be considered our formal notification of the approval by the Minister… despite being personally addressed to “Bill”.
There are certain conditions to the approval, none of which adequately address the core concerns we have about the way the building will interface with Hosier Lane and that impact on this busy pedestrian zone. In particular the loading and unloading arrangements, and the shadowing that will be imposed by such a large tower. Please be sure to read the document clearly and let us know of any other issues you see or concerns raised.
Within the letter is the note that any objections to the approval must be received within 21 days. Unfortunately (if you wish to object) the letters were distributed only after that deadline had passed so questions need to be asked about the process that has been followed. Please do so. Call or write to the department and ask those questions! We ask you to communicate with the group about your questions and any answers you receive.
What next? We are currently seeking advice about our options so please be in touch if you are concerned about the approved development and we will keep you posted via this page. Post on the page, comment, like and share your concerns about the proposal, and about the process followed!
In case you have not received this notice, like some in the group you can read ithere: L to app NOD 1.9.14.
The full notice that includes detailed information about restrictions and requirements regarding the Urban Art Strategy, Waste Management and Loading provisions required is available here: NOD signed 1.9.14.
After the success of Hosier Inc’s PaintUP! Round One, featuring the stunning portrait of a local aboriginal boy on the side of MacDonald House, Hosier Inc is proud to announce a call for expressions of interest for Paint UP Round Two. Download PDF
You are invited to submit a concept for a large-scale image to be painted in the Hosier and Rutledge Lane precinct as part of the 2nd round of the PaintUP! initiative.
The successful proposal will demonstrate a rationale and a design that demonstrates an affinity with the location of the wall and building.
The proposal may include some or all of the available walls on the Youth Projects facade.
Hosier Inc will grant $6,000 to the successful artist to supplement project costs.
The artist will be responsible for the costs associated with the organization, management and execution of the project, with advice and support from Hosier Inc. (Public liability by HI!)
There can be no offensive or religious material, no sexually
All members of Hosier Inc will invited to participate in the
selection process, which will also include input from Youth
Projects and the City of Melbourne.
This event may be used as an opportunity to promote Youth
Projects. The chosen artist should therefore be aware that they
may be required to participate in these media and PR
opportunities. Any conflict caused by strong affiliation with
another charity should be carefully considered before applying
for Paint UP Round Two. For information regarding Youth
Projects go to http://www.youthprojects.org.au
3rd October: Submissions close
22nd October: Successful artist notified
“After months of gathering footage, I am so happy that at last my video is finished. There is such a plethora of art in these lane ways and as you might know, street art is fairly transient … a piece is here one day, but perhaps superseded by another the next.” Kate (ooshanapa)
There are about 2000 pedestrians that visit Hosier Lane every weekend… From all walks of life- tourists, artists, wedding parties, diners, shoppers and theatre-goers. We want to see that many in the laneway at one time – to emphasis the number of pedestrians that will be impacted if the development proceeds as proposed.
As a community we are concerned about the proposed redevelopment of the old MTC/Chinese theater site behind the forum.
Keep Hosier Real #keephosierreal – is a community and resident action group. The name does not focus on the forum (and the property development is not actually on the Forum site – but will make a big impact on the way the lane currently works!
We are here to showcase the impact that a new large hotel will have on the lane and its current tenants, public access, heritage sites and likely reality that any hotel guests will not appreciate the Forums impact on their sound sleep.
The design in its current form does not address the laneway I a positive or practical way. the proposed treatment will turn this laneway into a loading dock for the hotel, and the plans to ‘activate’ the laneway will only serve to deter any spontaneous form of artwork – killing the very essence of the area.
Keep Hosier Real is not just about the art, (which by its pure nature is transient) but about the need for consultation with the community… and the change in the skyline around a gorgeous heritage protected building.
We are not anti development, we are keen to see the site developed, but feel the extra height and other impacts is not warranted in this particulate precinct.
We also believe the “shadow” of the current proposed building will come across the Atrium area which was designed to be Melbourne’s Winter Garden.
We are all here to celebrate the lane Hosier lane and ensure that any development will Keep Hosier Real!
Melanie Raymond. CEO Youth Projects who run the Living Room
Fiona Sweetman. Founder of Hidden Sectets –Melbournes leading laneway tour operator and passionate advocate for all things Melbourne.
We’re hoping fill Hosier Lane with people at 2pm on Sunday the 4th of May.
The proposed hotel development on the old MTC site directly behind the Forum will affect Hosier Lane – to the detriment of Melbourne’s world-famous street art and cultural precinct.
The development proposes to transform Hosier Lane into a loading area for a 32 level hotel/commercial venture. This would put pedestrians at constant risk, compromise other businesses and emergency vehicle access and will drive away the artists. There must be a better way to develop this site.
We’re asking for community consultation before any decision is made. Join in and help put a stop to any proposal involving the Forum and Hosier Lane, pending an extensive and open discussion among all interested parties.
Speakers attending the rally will be representing planning, tourism, theatre, live music, heritage and hospitality industries. If you want to speak please let us know – contact us via Facebook.