Brussels' Mont des Arts has for years been a target for graffiti, but the situation has recently got worse with the iconic hill vying for the dubious title of "most tagged spot in Belgium", much to the dismay of the agency tasked with keeping Brussels clean.
“It’s a place we have been cleaning repeatedly for years now,” lamented a spokesperson of Bruxelles-Propreté. “The graffiti just keeps coming back. That creates a problem of cleanliness and perception for the city.”
Mont des Arts is bang in the centre of Brussels and is bordered by Belgium's Royal Library, the National Archives, and the Brussels Meeting Centre. Bruxelles-Propreté describes having to constantly remove graffiti as "a Sisyphean task", La Dernière Heure reports. “The people who clean it would like the place to remain clean. It’s demotivating."
The City Council has been criticised for the situation but Zoubida Jellab (Ecolo), alderwoman in charge of public cleanliness, counters this arguing that "the building in question belongs to the Federal Government. We are greatly saddened by the situation, and we have already been doing a lot, but the city cannot make up for the shortcomings of other institutions."
- Removing graffiti from trains cost SNCB €6 million in 2020
- Graffiti workshops transform flood wall in Antwerp port area
For their part, the Federal Government spends €20,000 each year to clean the Mont des Arts, according to the Secretary of State in charge of the management of buildings, Mathieu Michel (MR). Works are carried out three to four times a year. "We cannot clean it every day. Whenever we remove graffiti we apply anti-tag paints, which makes cleaning easier."
Michel said that it isn't simply a problem that can be fixed by spending more but said that a "structural solution" is needed. He highlighted that Mont des Arts "is an important place for the capital of Europe."
One such solution could be a park guard but the open layout of the space and it being permanently open would make it problematic to guard.