Monday, 9 November 2009

In Defence Of Flyposting

So yesterday I went flyposting in the bustling metropolis of Wellington city. I was putting up posters for my book launch and it was good to see my posters up with others for various events. I was going to write this blog anyway, but felt it was more important after coming across this blog describing why "flyposting is evil". Not just discourteous or even wrong, but EVIL!

Let me describe 3 places I have lived:

Chelmsford - flyposting not allowed, very little flyposting. You can get a good picture of Chelmsford from reading a previous blog entry - it's middle class, relatively clean, and rather dull. There's very little flyposting, although to be fair, there's hardly any cultural scene to poster about.

Bristol - flyposting not allowed, but lots of flyposting. Bristol has a thriving music, arts and cultural scene, and clearly has a lot of people who don't care about breaking the law putting up posters. This isn't to say that they go up anywhere - the council is quite hot on it, and even idiots are respectful enough not to post straight onto the Wills Memorial Building. But admittedly some parts of the city centre look less than tidy. I found it hard to feel angry though, as these posters described and showed a busy cultural scene I'd never seen before, and in a public way - and what alternative when there is no proper official place for local community advertising?

Wellington - flyposting is accommodated and allowed, there is lots of it. Wellington City Council in their wisdom has set up big drums and boards dedicated for flyposting. This gives a proper and legal outlet for Wellington's busy arts and cultural scene, with professional posters for big council-associated events side-by-side with DIY posters for local gigs and events (such as mine). True, flyposting does go outside this, but it mostly happens on abandoned properties and dilapidated shop fronts - and I would argue that these properties look better and are more useful with posters than without.

Personally, my argument for flyposting is roughly the same as grafitti - it shows a town or city has life and events and soul, while banning it makes a place look sanitised, clean and boring. Okay, I haven't lived in some dodgy towns in the North of England where the flyposting is out of control and the grafitti has no talent, and grafitti should always be either artistic or political (unlike the tagging and pointless shit varieties you get).

On a more political level, I have to agree with this article by Urban75 and Naomi Klein's 2000 book No Logo. The plain fact is, big corporations have huge amounts of money to put their images and their messages telling you to buy their products all over public spaces, and the only differences between their legal billboard advertising and the flyposter's illegal A3 posters are a) having huge stacks of money and b) having an authorised space to do it. In so many places, local bands and artists and promoters and theatres and individuals have no place to post messages and events about their local community. Just to bring the point home, the entire purpose of corporate advertising strategies is to sell products and make money, nothing else. Local posters are often about making money too, but they also have a number of myriad functions about enriching the local community and keeping people informed. (Plus the money made also stays in the local economy!) While out yesterday, I saw a poster on a wall - not an official board or drum - entitled "POETRY READING AT PEGASUS BOOKS". The message wasn't "buy this shit, it will improve your social status", it was "come and hear poetry read in a local bookshop". Anyone who thinks that flyposter is evil and/or should be criminalised is heartless and, worse, thoughtless.

However, I'm not advocating breaking the law, and you shouldn't have to - ironically I roughly agree with Bigmouth's blog on the subject of following the European model, which is what they seem to have done here in Wellington. As with grafitti, providing a proper authorised outlet fulfils a number of functions:

-Restricts the amount and mess of unauthorised flyposting on private property
-Encourages the arts scene by providing legitimate advertising for local people, groups and events
-Shows members of the cultural scene and flyposters that the council want to co-operate rather than punish

So there it is, my case for flyposting legally and sensibly. If your local council doesn't have boards or space for local people to post local events, ask them why not.

By the way here's that image I sent from my phone the right way up. Not sure if I can rotate photos on my phone!

1 comment:

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