The state of the arts in Freo

There has been a fair bit of commentary in the media and on blogs over the last few days about the state of the arts in Fremantle.

With the recent demise of Deckchair and more recently FotoFreo and rumours of financial challenges at the Fly by Night it might be easy to think the arts are in trouble in Fremantle but the truth is that it is a much more mixed story than that.

There is a lot much fantastic stuff happening as well that just painting a negative picture is not helpful or accurate. I have pasted a bit of list of some of the good things we are doing at the City of Fremantle below. But there is a lot of great other stuff too from Feast Your Eyes on Adelaide Street to PSAS in Pakenham Street and the Sculptures@Bathers and so much more…

Without blowing our own trumpet too much the City of Fremantle is the leading local government when it comes to developing, supporting and providing arts and cultural experiences. Our annual budget spent to do this eclipses any other local government in WA – and so it should.

This doesn’t mean we can’t make it even better though.

Some examples of what is happening or has recently happened in the arts in Fremantle:

  • The Fremantle Arts Centre is funded and operated by the City of Fremantle providing free music events, ticketed concerts, art exhibitions, gallery space for artists, an artist in residency program, city art collection that grows each year focusing on Freo artists, a shop with local products and an extremely popular arts courses program delivered by local artists. Year round active arts programming and delivery. We should be very proud of this.
  • The Moores Gallery is also funded by the City of Fremantle offering gallery exhibition space for local artists plus an artist in residence space. This is year round programming.
  • A public art program with the annual budget recently increased.
  • 4 festivals growing in size and quality annually- street arts, heritage festival, hidden treasures music festival and the Fremantle festivals directly employing local arts professionals and artists.
  • The activation and development of Arthur head in progress opening up more opportunities for local artists to live, work and exhibit in Fremantle.
  • Community arts development funding program of $50,000per annum open to all local artists. First round has just closed. New in 2012.
  • Youth urban art program resulting in numerous fantastic bus shelters, and other infrastructure, decreasing graffiti cleanup costs and involving young people in the arts.
  • ROA Numbat street art on Henderson St.
  • Funding for 25under25 art competition for young people. Currently in progress.
  • Funded and organised yorgas aboriginal art project resulting in a wonderful art piece now on display at Hilton community centre. Another funding application in for another similar project.
  • Arts workshops and community program’s at meeting place and Hilton community centre offered annually to the community.
  • A thriving market and place activation activities at Kings Square. A King’s chair sculpture commissioned by local artist Robby Lang.
  • An aboriginal art project is currently in progress with a local aboriginal artist.
  • Subsidised rental support annually provided to Kulcha and Harbour Theatre and until recently Deckchair
  • Community funding program supporting numerous arts and cultural community events and projects annually.
  • 10 years of funding support to Fotofreo at around $37k per annum last few years
  • Grounds and planning support to Sculpture by Bathers and Bathers Beach Food Markets.
  • Lighting of heritage buildings program.
  • Arts in Freo banners in South Tce with accompanying webpage – City of Fremantle is also investigating an arts instalment in the Myer windows facing Kings Square.
  • An art project in the Kings Square toilets which has significantly decreased graffiti and vandalism.
  • The Arcadia a temporary art project is a very recent addition to public art and an increasing focus on public art (check out photos of this below)

This is not an exhaustive list but certainly the key actions that support and demonstrate how the City of Fremantle are meeting the strategic aim of making Fremantle a home for the culture and the arts.

I would be interested in your feedback and what else you would like to see the City of Fremantle support?

Of course it mostly costs money which has impacts on our rates but don’t let that stop you!.

No doubt there is plenty more to do and in the pipeline, as it should always be improving and changing not standing still. Creativity is moving and changing as its very nature.

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About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor

18 Responses to The state of the arts in Freo

  1. Grounds and planning support to Sculpture by Bathers and Bathers Beach Food Markets.
    please explain ?

    • The context for this is that there was chatter that the city of Fremantle had opposed Sculptures@bathers when the truth was that while we would have preferred it to be at another time of year we were willing to offer in kind support to enable it to happen which our technical services and planning staff have done. Not a big one.
      Cheers. Brad

  2. That is a list to be admired my good fellow… all positive’s in my eyes and something to be proud of. More positives people!! Address the good thats been done – and not what hasn’t.

    I am not sure whether Freo already do this, and pardon my ignorance if they do, but, what would be cool would be a ‘Festival of Ideas’. A major collaboration between the arts, sciences, education, and community organisations that get together to harness the power of the creative community, to imagine our collective future, which, is built upon the core belief that arts and culture constitute a driving force behind the vitality of urban centres around the globe. I think New York does something like this every year.

    Something done over several days, lectures and workshops with visionaries and leaders, architects, artists, and technology experts presenting model products and practices for a better city. I believe the Chamber of Commerce will be holding an innovation seminar soon?? Maybe more of that kind of thing.

    I would like to see more of the science’s and arts come together, ( artists, writers, environmental scientists, architects, engineers, ecologists, sociologists, designers, urban farmers, planners ), to exchange ideas, propose solutions, and invite the public to participate.

    The world’s resources continue to be endangered, depleted, and destroyed, we all need to imagine new solutions and develop innovative approaches and practices.

    That’s just my ‘out of the box’ thought for today anyway 🙂


  3. There is a lack of sustainable arts practice that exists outside the funding arena…not to knock or disparage all the other arts based life that is taking place in Fremantle as a result of such funding…still there is room for more entrepreneurial partnerships.Unfortunately Fremantle seems to have a way to go in exploring differing models of making artist and artworkers lives more sustainable over a long term and present themselves as a strong cohesive cultural force and industry in their own right that caters for and aids in the development of many parts of the communities industries and life…eg tourism,design industries textile and fashion,sculpture,architecture ,real estate etc,etc,Much is successful and the glass half full approach is a much better way of viewing the development of such…but its actual industrial condition and return to artists for living/lifestyle is low.Part of this of course is a very short term planning approach and a narrow view of what constitutes the role and status of artists/arts in general.Times are definetly changing and challenging as the consumer is determing much more what they are willing to pay for.The arts of course are more than what is paid for though and we need to find more long term solutions to funding that does involve multi party/partnerships that dont just rely on council and state / Australian federal government funding whims and controls.Yes I agree the arts are alive and active and struggling with these issues and much is to be thankful for…but there is a need for more co operatrion,forthrightness,independence and a cohesive vision so that the arts does not have just a Pr or decorative or re living the past glories role.It must become integral as an industry and cultural force as part of Fremantle.New models that go beyond just manipulation of artists and art sectors .To thrive we need to let go of the past but learn from it to develop a more positive future and new more sustainable/powerful models of doing things…How to do it?The evolution has already begun with many almost invisible micro businesses that arts and design based.Unfortunately thay have low profile and dont necessarily come under any funding or collective schemes…but they are there and changing the cultural life/lifestyle of many…How to support and greenhouse them?…Hmmm ..just a few thougfhts for now.Ciao

  4. There is a roamer that pixelated cloud cost $30,000. If it is just a short hanging (with not much merit I would suggest) then that sounds wrong and should be clarified.

  5. Greg says:

    What are you going to do save Harbour Theatre and prevent them becoming another Deckchair? Freo council has already forced them to move in 1995 and 2009 and now they’re being forced to move again. The theatre celebrates 50 years in Fremantle this year and yet there is almost no support for this part of the city’s cultural heritage.

    • While the loss of deckchair was tragic the only silver lining is that Vic Hall has been freed up for use by arts organizations including Harbour Theatre. This would be a great 50th year outcome.
      Also for the record I don’t believe it was Freo Council who were behind the other moves. The 1990s were before my time on council but late 2000s was council helping out with port cinema when they were forced to move from the other end of Princess May.
      Cheers. Brad

  6. Greg says:

    Whether or not the 1995 forced move was before your time on council, the fact remains Harbour Theatre remains being shoved from pillar to post and a Sunday Times article from the times shows it was because the council jacked up the rent and the theatre, a volunteer organisation, could no longer afford the rent.
    The 2009 move was an indirect result of heritage zealots John Dowson and Les Lauder getting the National Trust involved in the Princess May Precinct and the possibility of the National Trust being responsible for it – the Fremantle Education Centre then realised what a nice little earner it had on its hands, jacked up the rent and Harbour Theatre could no longer afford to stay.
    Victoria Hall could be a great outcome – but what guarantee can you give they won’t have to move again in another few years? Harbour Theatre needs a permanent, not transient home, like the Old Mill Theatre in South Perth.

  7. Greg says:

    So does Harbour Theatre now have a permanent home?

  8. Philip says:

    Is there a 32 year old internationally acclaimed puppet theatre in Fremantle somewhere that brings 40,000 people into the city each year? Tours nationally and internationally and supports over 40 artists living in the Fremantle area? hmmm I am sure I have heard of one!
    Be great to hear what the city has planned to sustain this icon of culture and arts in Fremantle?

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