Guide to painting walls

Painting a wall legally requires a bit of work, in order to make sure all of the boxes are ticked. These are the steps we take to paint a wall. Owners or artists looking to paint a wall can also use this as a guide for their own work. Please note, this is not formal planning advice and we recommend anyone wanting to undertake a mural should talk to the DCC planners to get advice.

1. Talk to an artist or artists about undertaking street art.
Sometimes we approach the artist, sometimes they approach us. In selecting artists to work with there are a number of factors we might consider to ensure we have a balance of local and international works, styles, themes and perspectives represented. Our most important consideration, however, is quality and an assurance we can get a good quality outcome.

2. Locate a suitable wall and get the owner to approve the use of it for a mural.
Sometimes artists have specific surfaces or types of walls they like to work on. Some owners will have ideas on the styles of work they prefer, which will narrow the range of artists we can use. Getting these differing factors to align can take some time. Unfortunately, sometimes we can’t convince the owners of the walls that artists would like or we think are great candidates to approve murals.

We also look at how potential locations will work in terms of context, the content and type of work, and the overall distribution of works and themes or styles along the trail.

3. Get a sketch for approval.
Once we have an approval in principle to use the wall and for the artist chosen to do the work, we get the artist to undertake a sketch of their proposed and have this approved by the owners. This sketch will also be used in the ‘resource consent application’ and in discussions with any ‘affected parties’.

Sometimes there will be further discussions around the proposed work and the proposal may evolve or change. Some artists will also want to change or tweak the proposal once they are on site. While there is some scope to do this, we need to make sure any changes are broadly consistent with the approved resource consent and have any significant variations signed off by the DCC.

4. Get the consent of affected parties.
Prior to lodging an application for resource consent from the DCC, it is worth checking whether there are any ‘affected parties’ whose support will also be needed to undertake the work. They are asked to sign the sketch and a copy of the resource consent application.

Understanding who is an ‘affected party’ can be difficult. It is worth talking to DCC planners about who they think might be affected and seek sign off of the design from these people. Typically, it is those who might look directly at the mural from their place of residence, but the type of zone the mural is in (commercial or residential) will have some impact on who is deemed to actually be affected. Simply not liking the content of a mural does not necessarily make someone an ‘affected party’.

If support cannot be gained from everyone who is deemed to be affected, this is not necessarily the end of the road. Sometimes the DCC planners will assess the work and still approve it, if they deem the effects to be minor (or positive). There is a risk, however, that where affected party approval cannot be gained, the consent will shift into a notified consent and include a hearing, which increases the costs and time to gain consent. It is also possible the consent will be declined.

5. Apply for resource consent.
Once all the information and affected parties consent forms have been pulled together, we apply for resource consent from the DCC. A straight-forward consent can take up to 20 working days. Until the consent is approved, work cannot start.

Non-notified consent fees for murals are currently free. As noted above, a notified consent will take longer and cost more, as the costs of hearings are recovered from applicants.

If the consent is approved, the mural can commence. However, there may also be specific conditions that need to be met and kept in mind during the painting.

6. Work out the logistics for painting the wall.
There are a wide range of matters we will need to address to make sure the wall can be painted. This includes working out what paint and other supplies are needed and order them from our suppliers. Taller walls might need scissor lifts of scaffolding which will need to be booked. We may also need to organise access with owners and neighbours to the wall, resolve any car parking issues, and so on, in order to make sure the artist has the access they need and other users are inconvenienced as little as possible.

7. Find the funding.
Dunedin Street Art is a charitable trust. We do not have a regular income stream and are not funded by Dunedin City Council. We have to raise the money for each wall to pay for the artist fees, travel and accommodation, the materials, etc. ourselves. We have strong relationships with some sponsors who help us out with materials and infrastructure, either for free or for a reduced rate. However, we still need to raise the funds for each wall we undertake. We do this through contributions from owners and businesses, Givealittle campaigns, and applications for grants.

As a guide, the walls we have been involved with range in cost from $1000 – more than $10,000.

8. Organise travel, accommodation etc.
If the artists are from outside Dunedin, we will need to organise their travel and accommodation.

9. Assist the artist.
Once the artist is here in town and ready to work, we need to make sure they have everything they need on site. Some artists will need substantial help setting up their wall. If artists need anything additional during the day (or night) we have to get this for them to make sure the painting goes as smoothly as possible and in order that their time is dedicated to being creative, not finding supplies!

While artists from outside Dunedin are in town, we also like to try to give them a chance to experience the city. We try to find out some of the things they are interested in and tailor some experiences for them, to make sure they also have fun while they’re here. We really want artists to leave Dunedin having had a great experience.

10. Manage any resource consent conditions and issues.
When resource consents are approved, they often have conditions to be met. We need to make sure the artist is aware of these and that they adhere to these conditions.
If the artist decides to make changes to what they originally proposed and consented, we need to work with the DCC to ensure these can be achieved within the existing resource consent.

11. Handle media enquiries.
Street art tends to get quite a bit of publicity. We have to be on call to answer questions from the media about the artist and the work and any other issues that come up.

12. Clean up once the work is complete.
Once the artist has finished we need to make sure the site is returned to a tidy state, paint is collected, rubbish removed and any equipment, infrastructure, or materials are returned.