New YMCA Street Art Festival

The YMCA of Christchurch is very excited to announce that they will put on their third amazing street art extravaganza for Christchurch.

The festival, Street Prints Ōtautahi, will see large scale murals painted in the central city, New Brighton and Lyttelton – bolstered and complimented by a diverse range of events and activities for all ages throughout the two weeks between the 20th of December and New Year.

Following on from the success of SPECTRUM in 2014 and 2015, the YMCA is working with PAINT – a charitable trust whose purpose is to create opportunities to promote and support street art for the purposes of urban beautification, creativity and positive economic outcomes for New Zealand. Together the two socially focused not-for-profits aim to deliver a street art festival which will celebrate all forms of street art including street dance, theatre and music as well as adding to Christchurch’s already impressive collection of large scale street murals. The event will be funded by the Christchurch City Council, the YMCA and a range of other private and philanthropic supporters.

SPECTRUM, delivered for the purposes of local and international audiences, was funded by the CCC, Rata Foundation, a number of private sponsors and in the end underwritten by the YMCA of Christchurch by half a million dollars. Directed by Oi You! it was consistently referred to as one of the best street art exhibitions seen in NZ, if not the entire southern hemisphere. SPECTRUM saw hundreds of thousands of visitors both local and international to the central city, and along with the many murals created on the streets of Christchurch SPECTRUM has arguably played a significant part in Christchurch’s now firmly established international reputation as a street art destination.

The YMCA partnered with Oi You! in order to enable SPECTRUM to happen. “As an organisation we were of the view that anything that invigorated the central city and at the same time engaged with young people, was worth supporting. George Shaw and Shannon Webster of Oi You! are experts in the field of street art and delivered two events in partnership with us, as well as RISE with the Canterbury Museum in 2013, all of which were extremely impressive, and were without doubt a great thing for Christchurch at the time.” Said Josie Ogden Schroeder, the CEO of the YMCA. However, by mutual agreement Oi You! and the YMCA chose to end their partnership in 2016. “Our vision as a charitable organisation was to enable and empower young people, and a static exhibition did not achieve this. Also, our financial contribution was significant – half a million dollars over two years – it cost a lot more than was forecast. Without some [artistic] compromise by Oi You! in terms of how to deliver something which cost less and delivered more for our organisations’ mission, our relationship came to an end.” Ogden Schroeder said.

Looking forward, the YMCA has partnered with kiwi born and bred Jah and Lovie Smith of PAINT, who have been activators and advocates in the field of street art for many years. The partnership will bring to the YMCA’s vision to empower young people a street art expertise and credibility, as well as significant economies of scale (the artists will also participate in the Street Art festival in Tauranga earlier in the month). Jah and Lovie are also passionate about developing young people, and the idea of creating a festival which celebrates many mediums of street art. This years’ street art festival – called Street Prints Ōtautahi, following directly on from Street Prints Mauao in Mount Maunganui – will embrace all forms of street art, from the visual art of mural and graffiti painting to street dance, music and theatre, with these young performers hailing from local Christchurch groups. Prints, both metaphorical (footprints) and literal (murals), will be left throughout the city streets.

Most importantly, there will be ample opportunity for aspiring young people to get involved, with an ambitious mentoring programme planned for aspiring young artists who will be offered a chance-of- a-lifetime opportunity to work closely with some of the best artists in the world.

Artists currently lined up to participate are FinDAC, Hula, Amppiritto, Frank & Mimi, Claire Foxton, George Rose, Phibs, MayoNaize, Cracked Ink and Erika Pearce – hailing from the UK, the USA, Spain, Australia and New Zealand. They are all new to Christchurch so the public can look forward to seeing art that is truly new for our urban landscape. “These artists are excited by the idea of mentoring a young person to learn artistic techniques, be inspired, work in an ethical way, and most of all to discover that talent can be nurtured to create future career pathways in the arts. It doesn’t just have to be a hobby or dream.” Ogden Schroeder explained. “We of course are enormously grateful to the generosity of the artists – they are happy to give of their time and expertise to develop younger artists, and at the same time they are gifting art to our city and our people. I admire not only their incredible talent but also their commitment to giving back, which helps to grow and strengthen the credibility and validity of street art as serious art, something more than graffiti.”

The YMCA will be liaising with local high schools, youth agencies and tangata whenua in order to select young people for the artist mentoring programme. There will also be opportunities for many more young people to be involved in a range of ways, and a free wall will be available for anyone to make their mark in the week between Christmas and New Year. The full festival programme will be released later in the year but it promises to include artist talks, debates, competitions, exhibits and workshops which will include a range of street art disciplines and inspire and engage people of all ages.

“The timing is intentional. Not all kids get great family holidays at Christmas. For many young people the Christmas break looms laden with promise of idle time, boredom and even stress about money or family matters. We want to provide something really awesome for our city at a time when young people have time and space to really participate, to maximise their motivation.”


A Mount Maunganui mural by Irish street artist Fin Dac.

New Zealand street artist Erika Pearce with one of her murals.

Kiwi street artist Cracked Ink will create a new artwork in the festival.


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