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In 2009 and 2010, Newquay in Cornwall underwent major criticism as national newspapers ran huge features claiming that the resort had become a major destination for young people who were looking to celebrate post-exams and get drunk.  Concurrently a number of strip clubs and an official ‘UK’s biggest pub crawl’ experience started in the town and then in quick succession, one young teenager died after falling off a cliff whilst under the influence of alcohol and a number of others were injured. 

As a result a major ‘Newquay Safe’ campaign effort was co-ordinated between the local police, accommodation providers, health professionals and licensees however no young people were involved in the campaign.  It was therefore decided that young people should be part of the picture and given their past experience in co-ordinating highly successful young people-led guerrilla campaigns, Excess Energy was contracted to create and facilitate a street art-related project for FEAST and Newquay Safe.

The Excess Energy team ran a media campaign to recruit a team of committed young people and recruit potential artists.  The team also foresaw the opportunity to create full-scale local community monbilisation and media campaign that could have far-reaching effects beyond the painting of walls or building sites.  Two different artists – Tony Minnion and Mat McIvor – were contracted and both ran workshops with the young people to gather their thoughts and feelings about the current Newquay situation.  A fierce sense of pride and love for the town, its setting and benefits was clear and the contradictions between the ‘real’ Newquay and the one being portrayed in the media was stark.  Excess Energy then worked with the ‘crew’ and a local designer to create a brand and overall identity for the campaign.  Based on the I  NY brand strength the crew created a related mark using the Cornish language to express the new name ‘ I love you Newquay’ as ‘ My A’th Kar Newquay’ with a visual logo: my a’th kar NY. 

Following extensive liaison with Cornwall Council and retailers, sites for the inspiring, young people-created, artwork were agreed at the Blue Reef Aquarium (overlooking the popular town beach), at Burger King, the police station and the old Newquay Bus Station.  These sites were all dull, dirty and uninspiring therefore provided the perfect canvas for the pride-filled and often hard hitting respect messages that the young people are keen to communicate to locals and visitors alike.  Constant media attention and coverage was generated by Excess Energy all the way through as well the running of a proactive social media campaign utilising a blog, facebook and popular websites. 

Work began on the sites and the Burger King wall was finished first.  Unfortunately due to an ownership change at the top of BK, an absentee owner and landlord instructed a whitewashing of the wall.  Much as this was an immediate shock for all, Excess Energy seized the chance to campaign for an apology and financial action from BK to rectify their error.  As a result of front page media coverage, emails and letters to BK from the crew and locals and a social media campaign, BK relented, apologised and have offered an additional £3,000 to recreate the image elsewhere in Newquay. 

Excess Energy then arranged a ‘Challenge Newquay’ Paintfest for the week of half term to get the mammoth amount of hoardings to surround the Old Bus Station (a much hated eyesore) painted and the community willingly took up the challenge with over 80 boards painted in four days.  Again major media coverage and constant social media supported the efforts and two more sites, as well as a really innovative site on the harbor, are now in the planning to continue the campaign.  A full retail project is also in the pipeline and plans to make the project self-sustaining and a social enterprise are in full flow.

The overall campaign has had a stunning amount of support from members of the public, businesses, councillors and MPs and is continuing to garner an unstoppable momentum.