Street Art: If the Public Owns the Wall, Does It Get a Say in the Pictures?

04/16/2013 08:18 EDT | Updated 06/16/2013 05:12 EDT
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Indian artists create wall paintings during the 'Design The Change' wall art event in New Delhi on February 24, 2013. The activity brought together more than 500 professional and budding artists on the same platform to create the wall art. Artists used their imagination and creativity to give justice to the theme and depicted the essence of transformation needed for the betterment of society. AFP PHOTO/SAJJAD HUSSAIN (Photo credit should read SAJJAD HUSSAIN/AFP/Getty Images)

Street art can be breathtaking and beautiful -- an excellent way to bring vitality to a corner or neighbourhood, not to mention a solid strategy for minimizing unwanted and potentially hateful graffiti. Recognizing these benefits, more and more governments and local business associations are turning over public spaces to artists to be used as canvasses for their imaginative creations. But setting aside a public wall or fence for art is only the first step. Then come the questions. Who gets to decide exactly what form the art will take? Should the public -- the owners of the property -- have a say? The government? Those who live and work in the area? Or is that interfering in the artistic process and getting in the way of the artist's creativity? Do we want government dictating art?

In the latest installment of our "Change My Mind" series, HuffPost asked two individuals who are concerned about the street art question to debate the statement: Government should keep its nose out of artistic expression, even in public spaces.

Arguing for the "agree" side is Gary Taxali, a Grammy nominated visual artist whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, Time, Rolling Stone and GQ. He exhibits at The Jonathan LevIne Gallery in NYC, Lazarides (The Outsiders Gallery) in London, and Antonio Colombo Arte Contemporarea in Milan.

Arguing for the "disagree" side is Rob Sysak, executive director of West Queen West, which is the Art & Design District, the Creative Heart of Toronto, and the voice of the local business community

What do you think? Read on, and see if one of these persuasive debaters will change your mind.