Six murals will be installed in the Canterbury Bankstown region this year following 12 months from the scandalous merge.
The first of six will be installed in Bankstown in the next few weeks, whilst the other five will be rolled out in the former Canterbury area throughout the year.
All the murals are the result of efforts before the council merge.
The two former councils – Canterbury and Bankstown were forced to merge last year in May under the State Government’s plan for 19 new councils.
According to News Local, the action came after Bankstown council was deemed ‘fit’ to remain its’ own council by the State Government’s Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).
Since then it has been the largest council in NSW with over 350,000 residents and 1300 staff according to News Local.
The five painted murals in Canterbury in particular come as part of a response to the graffiti vandalism frequenting the area.
In a small survey of people who live in the area, 31.3% said they either liked or loved graffiti, 37% said they disliked or hated it and 31.1% said they were indifferent towards it.
The most popular reason participants gave for positive responses was that graffiti was art, the second most popular reason being that it stood for freedom of expression.
For negative responses, the most popular reason participants gave unsurprisingly was vandalism, with the second being expensive clean up. Others also felt that it made an area look unsafe.
Despite differing opinions 81.3% of participants had said they would like a free art wall in the area, with a lot of responses closely echoing the idea that one person expressed, ‘it will encourage art, not vandalism.’
The council however have yet to create a combined Arts and Culture Policy, although Ms Emily Forrest, Team Leader in Urban & Environmental Design for Canterbury-Bankstown council said it is likely to be a part of the agenda next year.
“This is not a priority [as of yet] considering the considerable amount of essential services to be streamlined and brought together,” she said.
So far there are five previously installed murals listed on the council’s website describing their inspirations and location, although as the council is still working on combining their content and resources more old murals may surface on the site soon.
The council’s current endeavour is its’ rebranding strategy, in order to meld the two councils and find ways to attract non-residents to the area.
The strategy cost the council close to $400,000 alone.
.Research was conducted through workshops, discussions, interviews, and surveying residents online and over the phone. Around 500 Sydneysiders took part in in-depth focus groups and online surveys, to gauge perceptions about the area.
The council’s administrator, Richard Colley, said some people living in the Canterbury-Bankstown area believed other Sydneysiders thought Canterbury-Bankstown unsafe.
“We found this is not the case at all,” he said in a council report. “The research showed some Sydneysiders don’t visit Canterbury-Bankstown because they think there’s not much to do here.”
Mr Colley said that is all going to change.
According to Government News, a council’s survey found ratepayers wanted the area to become a destination where people stopped, rather than drove through – they were proud of diversity and wanted to project a more confident image.
The council developed a brand that followed the idea, ‘Where Interesting Happens,’ Mr Colley said to celebrate the diversity and authentic tales of the Canterbury Bankstown area.
The construction of a $2.5 million multi-purpose community centre in Gazzard Park, in Yagoona is one of seven projects the council has in store that is either completed or in the works.
The Canterbury-Bankstown region already has quite a good hold of the arts and culture scene; hosting the largest regular poetry slam in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest Hip Hop event of its’ kind in Australia in the Canterbury Bankstown Arts Centre.
However it may still be possible for the union to fall apart.
Former mayor Khal Asfour and ex- councillors have been calling for a de-merger after it was first revealed in February that Premier Ms Berejiklian’s was considering halting the amalgamations of 11 councils that are fighting her in court.
“It’s too large, we’ve had a trial run, it doesn’t work and the local community are suffering,” Mr Asfour told the Express.
Mr Colley said while he is proud of staff’s accomplishments, there is ‘plenty of work still to do.’
The next council elections for the region are in September.