In 1999, illegal graffiti was a problem in San Diego. After commissioning several local artists for a community mural project, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation learned that most of the defacement was done by youth looking for a place to express themselves. The decision was made to start a program aimed at steering the youth away from illegal vandalism and towards learning the art of graffiti.
"Graff Creek" started as a nomadic graffiti art program held at sites throughout the neighborhood. It had a following of over 300 youth who volunteered their time and efforts to build the program into a community art center.
A year later, Graff Creek became Writerz Blok. Three years after that, a half-acre facility was donated to the program, including office space and a large yard for an open-air art park. What began as a unique approach to prevent gang-related graffiti is now one of the country's most innovative youth art programs. Writerz Blok is a safe, "gang-neutral," and creative space that encourages artistic expression and entrepreneurial exploration while providing an alternative to gang membership — and an opportunity for shaping a healthy and fulfilling future.
Working to establish partnerships with local arts institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the San Diego Museum of Art, Writerz Blok is now helping bring this art form to new and more traditional arts audiences. This important work is raising awareness, increasing respect, and achieving more wide spread appreciation for graffiti as a legitimate and museum-worthy art form.
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