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The importance of street art in an urban centre

Perception and Image
Croydon has an impressive street art collection and this summer Croydon BID will be helping add to that in a new project with Moniker Culture.
We caught up with Tina Ziegler, Moniker Director, who is leading on this exciting new collection in the heart of Croydon, about the importance and culture of street art, and the impact it can have on the community.
 
Moniker was founded in Village Underground, Shoreditch in 2010, with around 10 exhibitors – just as street art was about to become the fastest-growing art movement. Rooted to the ground and subculture of urban art, they have grown consistently year on year – with the art fair tripling in size between 2016 and today.
 
With two annual art fairs, in New York and London, upwards of 40 exhibitors from around the world are showcased to international crowds – with more than 15,000 visitors to the last Fair in Chelsea in 2019.
 
Responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moniker has gone back to its roots, focusing on the streets and bringing art to the people.
 
“I saw such a need for urban art, and street art to help drive communities back out onto the streets after a year in lockdown,” Tina said.
 
“We’re trying to be that bridge between communities, BIDs or councils and the highly in demand urban art movement, making sure we honour the artists and sub culture while showing the importance of street art.”
 
And what can street art do a community?
 
“Street art can tick so many boxes,” Tina remarked. “From a tourism perspective it keeps new people visiting an area, it gives them a bit of insight to the local community and it gives them an idea of how the businesses are investing in their area and how organisations are supportive of the culture and arts sector.
 
“Bringing public art to areas that might be a bit visually deprived can have a huge impact on mental health in a positive light. If a shop closes down or the shopfront is abandoned, it leaves the community feeling a bit gutted and thinking ‘this really isn’t great to see on my way to work’. If you take those closed shops and you profile artists in the area and their work, that automatically changes the narrative.”
 
Tina also expressed how important street art was for younger people, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic meaning museums and galleries were closed, and that street art can improve areas economically and financially.
 
“You don't need to know the artist or have any knowledge of public art to be able to walk down the street and say enjoy the artwork- because it's created for the community by the community.”
 
The installation in Croydon will tell a story unique to Croydon, reflecting the community in which the art will reside. Working with a single artist, a trail to enlighten, inspire and inform will be created, with QR codes to scan to create an immersive, interactive experience.
 
“We’ve come up with a multi-site activation, with every piece part of the same story. It will all share the same colour palette and same narrative, connecting the works and creating an interactive trail,” Tina said.
 
With a theme focusing on Croydon being one of London’s greenest boroughs, inspiration is drawn from famous landmarks from Croydon’s past and present that take their name from nature.
 
“It's really about making sure the artwork can be beneficial to the people in the community. There could be a single mum with three kids and she can go and see a street art gallery and teach her kids about the flowers in Croydon, or for an elderly person they can look and go ‘There’s a park I can go to, I didn’t know about that’,” Tina added.
 
“I’m very excited to be working in Croydon. I have a lot of fond memories of Croydon – I used to go raving here as I was a big dubstep fan. I never got to see it from a different light but when they started investing in street art it started to pop up on my radar.
 
“It’s a fantastic part of London and it’s got such a vibrant community. I love how diverse it is.
 
“I feel like this is an opportunity to reposition the street art and really do something that gives the community something to be proud of. I think the story has to connect to the community rather than it just looking pretty. It's exciting, and I am hoping that it's embraced.
 
“I think doing anything in the streets and bringing public art to people is always a positive. So, if I can help make an area feel a bit better then it's a winner.
 
“I’ve worked with a lot of BIDs and Croydon has certainly been the most open-minded and trusting in the creatives that I’ve worked with. They have a very unique, creative outlet and they really have this idea to reform and reshape. I think, Croydon are lucky to have the people they have in the BID working for them.”

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