Art washes out youth crime

As a troubled youth Matthew Peet vandalized property with illegal graffiti and was involved in gang culture. But with some guidance he channeled his issues into art, now an internationally recognised artist.

When he’s not travelling around the world, he works with disadvantaged youth in Liverpool as the creative arts director at Ted Noffs Foundation, The Street University.

Peet, also known as Mistery (street name) went to a youth centre, changing his life forever.

“The youth centre developed my career. That’s my role now, to do what I was taught. When I was learning it was trial and error myself so I’m helping the next generation do the same thing in a legal and professional way,” he said.

The 46-year-old was there when the youth centre first began and has helped to develop it on a needs basis.

“We realised there were a few students interested in break dance so we bought a piece of lino, a stereo and then the dance programs took off. The guys involved in illegal graffiti just needed somewhere to paint that’s safe, free and legal, so we built the legal wall.”

According to the professional artist, he believes Liverpool’s Street University has helped to minimise crime.

“When we first started we got a letter from the head of police at Liverpool who said that crime had reduced. I’d say that’s continued.

“ I know of one young person involved in graffiti, which police were aware of and suggested his involvement in our programs. He started coming to the group and now he does paid work.”

When we first started we got a letter from the head of police at Liverpool who said that crime had reduced. I’d say that’s continued. - Matthew Peet

The Street University provides workshops and activities that incorporate creativity to engage young people.

It also delivers mentoring, educational workshops, drug and alcohol programs.

Minister for multiculturalism and disability services Ray Williams visited the youth centre on Tuesday.

He was in awe after checking out the students latest art exhibition, which celebrates cultural diversity.

“The program offers great workshops and opportunities for young people to engage in the local community and achieve their goals. It supports the NSW Government’s commitment to create inclusive communities and promote social cohesion,” he said.

As part of his visit, Minister Williams met with Matthew Capulong who curated the MAFU art exhibition as part of his HSC.

The 17-year-old attends Cecil Hills High School and has been a regular at the Street University for six years.

The main theme is inclusiveness and features work by students including those with special needs and street artists.

“I understand the struggles of making a name in the industry so I wanted to include all the local artists that aren’t recognised for their talents. It’s also to give disadvantaged students an equal opportunity,” Matthew said.

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