As promised, Mayor John Hickenlooper’s proposed budget for FY 2009 includes "increased funding for graffiti prevention and coordination efforts." The suggested $250,000 line item is just a pittance in comparison to the $914 million total, but it could have a big impact on efforts to channel urban artists’ energies in more productive ways, "away from vandalism and toward positive activities," says Erin Trapp, director of the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs. She’d mentioned the possible budget addition at last week’s meeting of the city’s graffiti task force, pointing out that the right kind of art programs might stop graffiti before it starts.
Denver City Council will be considering the budget over the next two months; the final version must be adopted by November 10. Will the graffiti-prevention allotment survive the inevitable cuts? All of Denver’s city councilmembers list graffiti as one of their primary concerns – but so far, their actions have focused more on clean-up than prevention. – Patricia Calhoun