Local mayor turns ‘guerrilla artist’ in appeal to young residents

An anonymous graffiti artist who sprayed silhouettes of a bespectacled figure on the pavements of two villages in Overijssel has been unmasked as the local mayor.

The mysterious images appeared overnight on Thursday in public places around Holten and Rijssen, which form a single municipality, along with the hashtag #BBTY.

The plain white images had no distinguishing features other than a pair of glasses. Some residents speculated that they were the work of a Banksy-style guerrilla artist, while others suspected the balding, bespectacled mayor, Arco Hofland, of being behind the campaign.

On Monday Hofland confirmed that the graffiti had been a publicity stunt to try to re-engage young people with the community. The hashtag #BBTY stood for Bring Back The Youth, he explained – a campaign to encourage youngsters to stay in the area rather than move elsewhere.

The local authority has invited young people to complete a questionnaire on its website which asks them to outline their priorities for the local area. Shop workers have been issued with T-shirts emblazoned with the logo and hashtag.

Ironically Rijssen-Holten, which straddles the regional boundary between Salland and Twente, has experienced some of the strongest growth in the area in recent years. In 2018 its population grew to more than 38,000, thanks in part to 156 new births, one of the highest levels in the province of Overijssel.

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