Artwork Planned For Downtown Beach Trash Cans

Artwork Planned For Downtown Beach Trash Cans
An example of a beach can art program in Florida. Submitted Image

OCEAN CITY — A pilot program was approved this week to adorn some blue trash cans on the beach with family-themed artwork for the dual purpose of promoting the ongoing anti-litter campaign and beautifying the coastline.

The Mayor and Council on Tuesday approved the proposed beach trash car art program, an idea borne out of the Coastal Resources Legislative Committee, or the Green Team, in April. The program will be administered by the Art League of Ocean City.

The initial test phase program calls for adorning 30 of the trash cans in clusters of three on the beach blocks south of 4th Street. Initially, the plan called for painting the designs on the cans, but Art League President Rina Thaler said on Tuesday the new concept is a plastic or vinyl wrap, similar to the wraps on city buses, for example.

“We’re trying to get a prototype done so we can figure out how best to get the artwork on the cans,” she said. “We’re thinking now the best way might be a vinyl or plastic wrap, but they would have to be placed strategically on the cans and leave a section uncovered in the middle where the big machines lift the cans to empty them.”

Thaler said the Art League has received a $5,000 grant from the state through the Clean Up and Green Up Maryland initiative. There are also sponsorship opportunities for private businesses and entities that would like to sponsor a can or cluster of cans in exchange for having their logo and website information attached, although Councilman Tony DeLuca, who chairs the Green Team committee, said there would be strict limitations on the size of advertisements.

“The sponsorship opportunities on the trash cans would be limited to four inches by six inches,” he said. “We don’t want to see big Under Armor or Coke ads all over the beach.”

DeLuca said the committee had two basic goals as it developed the beach trash can art program.

“The beach is our biggest asset,” he said. “The hope is seeing these beautiful cans on the beach will encourage people to clean up and throw their trash away.”

Thaler emphasized the sponsorship opportunities would be limited to just one year because it remains uncertain how the artwork will hold up in the sometimes harsh beach conditions and the daily emptying by big machines on the beach. She said the expected lifespan of the wrapped artwork was just one year.

“The sponsors will know up front they only have one year,” she said. “If it’s successful, they can re-up in the next year and do it again, but we expect the lifespan to be one year and they shouldn’t have any expectations beyond that.”

That was music to the ears of the council still smarting from another sponsorship opportunity that turned into a public relations nightmare earlier this spring. The town took somewhat of a beating this spring when it came to light many of the Boardwalk benches that had been sponsored by families on behalf of their loved ones had fallen into disrepair and needed to be replaced at the sponsor’s expense.

“Having learned from our mistakes, what if there is a storm and some of these cans end up in the ocean or lost?” Councilman Wayne Hartman said. “I think we need to clarify the lifespan is just one year. Things happen and we want to clarify we don’t have any liability beyond that.”

Council Secretary Mary Knight agreed.

“These things are going to be pretty cool,” she said. “I’m certain at some point some of these cans are going to become part of somebody’s frat house or man cave or something.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.