This weekend sees the next festival in our summer’s long line up which celebrates and promotes Bristol’s heritage and culture. These events help to make Bristol world renowned for its independent attitude, a city that does things differently.
Punching above its weight Upfest Street Art and Graffiti Festival is the largest event of its type in Europe. It comfortably stands on the summer programme which includes Harbourside festival, Bristol Pride, St Paul’s Carnival and the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, which this year celebrates 40 years.
2018 is the 10th year Upfest has been staged and will see 400 artists from 70 countries coming to the streets of South Bristol. These artists will create works of art in front of 50,000 visitors during the 3 day festival. Matt Groening creator of The Simpsons is this year’s headline act and has hand chosen 3 artists to work on artwork inspired by the iconic animated sitcom which demonstrates how far the festival reaches.
Also in this centenary year of women’s suffrage (for some) there will also be a strong emphasis on women artists with Bristol Women’s Voice being invited to work on commemorating this significant milestone.
Bristol has been at the forefront of changing the conversation on graffiti and street art for more than 10 years. This demonstrates our thriving arts scene and culture of innovation and disruption which adds to the mix in our continuing ambitious bid to be the location for one of Channel 4’s creative hubs.
However we must acknowledge that the look of the city plays an important role in how people feel about their neighbourhoods. While an imaginative piece of street art can increase people’s sense of belonging, tagging can make people feel unsafe and the neighbourhood appear uncared for. All graffiti done without permission is criminal damage and illegal. Graffiti and tagging is a problem in many areas of the city, and we work with communities to address this where possible. Bristol City Council’s Clean Streets team and Bristol Waste will also work with the graffiti and street art community to pilot a ‘permissions wall’ project. As a council we have to find a balance with clear guidelines about graffiti and street art, which includes how the city continues to support artistic expression where permission for graffiti has been granted.