“How art helped reclaim the city streets” – art, anti-social behaviour and the J-Shed proposal

 There was a very interesting article in the West Australian today on pages 6 and 7 called “How art helped reclaim the city streets” talking about the link between arts, culture and safer public places.

Inspector Craig Parkin the officer in charge of Perth Station said they didn’t need any extra police resources as a result of many thousands of extra people at Fringe World or the Perth International Arts Festival. He said “We get a lot more people into the city but the demographics are generally of those who don’t have to deal with from a policing perspective”

He goes on to say that

..“continued arts investment was a proactive way to enliven the city make it less attractive for people looking to start trouble”

“There is a different feel within the city and you can just sense that when you’re out and about in the streets”

This has some interesting and important relevance to the current J-Shed debate in Fremantle.

If we can get it right and make sure this new venue is arts focused one (like the Fringe Festival etc) then the evidence is that it will work in decreasing anti-social behaviour  – not add to it as is the fear of many residents and others who have opposed the Sunset events proposal.

The best approach is getting rid of anti-social behaviour in my view is getting more sensible people back out on the streets Fremantle at all hours. Frankly, it is about outnumbering the idiots and setting new standards for good behaviour so the idiots don’t feel comfortable or welcome.

This will no doubt be part of the debate both Monday and Wednesday night as to whether the Sunset proposal can help the City do that.


Monday the 24th  is the Electors Meeting Agenda the Town Hall on the J Shed Lease

         6.30pm  for registration – bring ID if you want to vote

         7pm start with 15 minute presentation by the CEO on current state of play/business plan.

         Questions, Statements and Motions

The item will then go to Full Council on Wednesday the 26th for a decision.

The agenda item on the issue can be found under the current Fremantle Council agenda at


Art and fringe



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

31 Responses to “How art helped reclaim the city streets” – art, anti-social behaviour and the J-Shed proposal

  1. John Vodanovic says:

    I went to a few Festival events in Northbridge and Perth. They were reasonably priced (some free) and you could be near venues soaking up the atmosphere, eat food and get a drink, without actually being “inside” the venue as a paid up patron. The Chevron Gardens is a great example. Promote reasonably priced art and entertainment and venue and the locality will be filled with folks in the right frame of mind. Is Sunset Events on the same wavelength?

  2. Paula Amaral says:

    Hi Brad
    I live around the Arts Centre, and have no complaints about how they manage their concerts. Yes our street becomes a parking lot, but the people who attend the concerts are well behaved, and obviously not drunk when they come back at the end of the concert to collect their cars.
    If I understand correctly Sunset Events is proposing a bar or small brewery, not an arts centre or a festival venue, and that is where the problem is. I don’t think you can really compare the two.
    I don’t think Sunset Events is proposing an arts centre, and that I believe is why people are against it. Clearly the City has not been able to convince the residents that what they’ll get is an arts venue.
    As the police inspector implied the demographics between the two are completely different.

  3. Mary Baynham says:

    There is no comparison between an arts event/festival and a large pub/tavern that caters for 850 patrons. The fact is that the proposal or ‘attractor’ as you choose to call it Brad is a large boozer. Nothing small or arts related about it. This is a huge commercial enterprise based on selling beer – plain and simple. The fact that you’re confusing the two demonstrates that you don’t have a clear picture of what’s involved – the police certainly understand the difference – so should you.

  4. With all due respect, Mayor Pettitt, I don’t see the correlation here. The Fringeworld festival is a massive event run over the course of a month. It’s a performance-based festival with events taking place around the city – live music, theatre, dance, cinema and comedy – some of it free of charge. Fringeworld is more like the wonderful Fremantle Fringe Festival but on a much larger scale.

    The proposed J-Shed lease you plan to grant to Sunset Events bears no resemblance to Fringeworld. The primary focus of the 21-year lease is to house an 850-seat tavern.

    Also, it’s significantly different from Fringeworld in that the planned site is not in the city but quite distant from anything else.

    There are no public transport links and no room for parking in that area.

    While there will be 15 concerts throughout the year and occasional live music on the premises, these will not be the primary focus or the activity that makes it a viable commercial interest. The business will make or break on the back of alcohol sales.

    This is not an artistic undertaking, there are no artists involved in this proposal. It certainly doesn’t support the Fremantle arts community. In fact, the current artists have already been given eviction notices.

    If I’m wrong about any of this, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Until then, what I’m hearing is agenda politics and that makes me very uncomfortable. Please don’t continue to insult your constituency by telling us this project has anything to do with the arts. It clearly does not.

    You keep saying, “If we get this right . . .” but you’ve yet to articulate to me or anyone else what evidence the Council has that you can accomplish a positive outcome. Wishful thinking doesn’t cut it with so much at stake.

    Respectfully yours.

    • Sarah
      I don’t agree with all of this. From a public transport perspective it is not much different in distance to the Pleasure Garden at Russell Square.

      Also it is not true current artists are been given eviction notices.

      As I wrote on Roel’s blog: The Fremantle Council is committed to making sure that this is an arts and culture venue. We don’t need just another Sail and Anchor – we need a unique venue with music and arts at the heart of what it does. We still refining the best way to do this but an agreement including the following is likely to be debated at the Council meeting

      … that the primary character of the operation will be a micro-brewing and artisan food provider as part of an iconic and high-quality music venue, and that one of the key functions of the venue will be to support and showcase a diverse range of arts and creative industries including exhibiting J Shed and Arthur Head artists’ work as a priority;

      A commitment to maintain a well-balanced focus on food, craft beverages, creative industries and music as appropriate to service the arts precinct and foreshore setting;

      A commitment to ongoing investment in programmes that support the creative industries being centred at the venue;

      Developing a venue that is welcoming to the broad public including tourists, families and beach goers as appropriate to this inner city waterfront location of considerable cultural significance.

      True J-shed won’t be the Fringe Festival – that wasn’t my point. My point was that an arts and music focused venue has the potential to bring into that part of Fremantle the kinds of people that went in their thousands to Fringe in the Perth and made the streets safer and far better.
      I was at Fringe last night. There was the drinking of alcohol at each of the Fringe events I went to but it felt safe. In a similar way, walking around Freo at midnight after St Jeromes Laneway Festival was the first time Freo actually felt safe and relaxed at that time on a Saturday night for as long as I could remember.

      • Kel says:

        Hi Brad,

        Bravo Sarah and Dick, you make such strong arguments but they do not fit into the Strategic thinking of the Mayor or Councillors who are promoting this cause.

        I saw the results of the Zanzabar Night club after closing times back around 2005.

        Thank God it closed down as the Esplanade Reserve and the streets of Fremantle were not a safe place to be at night.

        One point that has not been raised in this debate is where do the patrons go after Midnight after an Event at ” the proposed ” Sunset Events J” Shed booze Barn?

        Do they all just go home nice and quietly as claimed by you and the promoters?

        No not “all’ of them.What do they do?

        If the recent Sunset Events Events Laneways Event is a guide, this is what did and will continue to happen.

        Patrons coming into Fremantle park their cars at a’ friends home on the streets” such as South Fremantle (a dozen or more) have a few drinks to top up and set the scene then catch the free Cat Bus into Fremantle City centre for the Event .

        They walk back to these houses in the suburbs after the Event at” midnight or later” .

        As they cannot drive out of Fremantle because of their alcohol intake, they have to stay the night.

        Here is the problem.

        They do not sleep!! But neither do the neighbours!!

        The have a “prearranged all night party” playing loud thumping “duce duce” music till 7 am the next morning.

        The police have been called but do not turn up as they are too busy sorting the same problem nearby.

        The Fremantle Council Ranger has been called but he advises “has no authority to enter the premises” He can only take noise level readings and report it in his log..

        The neighbours call in at the early hours and voice their concerns but get abuse from the party goers.

        A point I would like to make is that these partygoers are not the so called ” idiots” as described by the Mayor but are normally law abiding young adults even yuppies who have quietly headed off home after the Event with the intent of partying all night/cranking up the music, showing no respect for the neighbours rights.

        Fremantle no longer has quarter acre blocks. These blocks now have wall to wall houses.

        These are facts as it has happened in our immediate neighbourhood of 6 properties.Twice recently.

        Will this be the trend from here on in Brad? Have you given this area any thought and not relied only on Sunset Events assurances.

        Their responsibility stops at their proposed fenced, fee paying booze barn.

        Alcohol fuelled Concerts for 15 weekends at Arthurs Head could expose our neighbour hoods to suffer an increase of this behaviour?

        Please do not dismiss this a rhetoric as if you contact Fremantle Councillor Strachan he will vouch for it.

        He lives in one of the six properties and is our neighbour.

        This could become a real problem for the Fremantle Community if it catches on.

        Demographic chances considered.

        Thank you

  5. Nigel says:

    Totally agree with the article in the West. BUT the bars are small. I would suport a small bar but am totally opposed to the size and scale of the sunset proposal.

  6. dickbaynham says:

    Brad – you want to take public open space and turn it into a huge pub – you are performing this act of vandalism on THE single most significant A-Class Reserve in the State – and you want to claim that this is some kind of artistic venture that will help quell anti-social behaviour?

    You are about to take a family friendly place of national importance that was set aside to mark it out as the place that white and indigenous people first met in Western Australia – and you plan to give a license for someone to operate a huge tavern (this is no ‘small bar’) on it – do you understand how inappropriate and insensitive this is?

    I am staggered by the fact that you’re promoting this proposal.

  7. Damien Takac says:

    Good day Brad,
    Totally agree with your comments. I work in the city but live in Fremantle. I’ve noticed a real change of the vibe in Perth City with all sorts of markets, bars, etc that are reclaiming the streets. For the first time ever, I’ll attend the council meeting next week in support of the J Shed development so that we the silent majority can counter the naysayers and bring back vibrancy to Freo – May the force be with us

    • Damien
      You would be very welcome (as are all others). 6pm Wednesday enter via stairs opposite old Myer
      thanks, Brad

    • Chris Steele says:

      Well said Damien. I also work in the city and live in Freo and have noticed over the past 5 years the evolution of Perth from a ghost town to a vibrant city centre, while at the same time Freo has went backwards. I think the current councillors we have are doing an excellent job of revitalising Freo, even with the noise of the anti development lobby in the background who wish to see Freo turned into a retirement village. I think a bit of respect needs to be brought back into the debate as the anti development lobby are starting to embarrass themselves again, just like they did during the skate park debate when teenagers showed they could be more measured and mature. Keep up the good work Brad, Andrew and the rest of the council. The silent majority supports you.

  8. Lucy says:

    This is outrageous! You’re talking about giving away this beautiful, Public, open space for the sake of selling beer! I don’t understand how you can even think about letting this happen let alone promote it! I grew up going to the round house and it’s surrounds and looked forward to my regular visits, so much so that I married my husband there 4 years ago and now I love to share this place with my young children. There are plenty of pubs in Fremantle and it’s surrounds, this is the last place you need to be proposing to put one. I’m absolutely disgusted and appalled. I would be devastated to see this beautiful sacred place turn into a beer garden!!

  9. Paula Amaral says:

    Perhaps the City should scrap the original EOI and start all over again. This time asking for an Arts venue with a small bar attached, instead of the opposite.

    • That would be an option but this business plan needs to be dealt with on it merits first.

      A concern about the “Arts venue with a small bar attached” is that Council will likely get no options that are largely self-funding like Sunset’s.

      • Mary Baynham says:


        Are you saying you are supporting “an over-sized pub with a small arts venue” – rather than “an arts venue with a small bar/cafe attached” – simply because the Applicant is telling you that this is the only way they can make it work?

        If you would prefer to see “an arts venue with a small cafe/bar attached” then why not reject the proposal for a large pub – keep the family friendly alcohol-free Public Open Space – and simply reissue an EOI for Unit 1 J-Shed on its own.

        On a separate note can you please explain why you did not post my previous response regarding ‘safety in the streets and Laneway’? You have answered other postings since I posted but mine is still ‘awaiting moderation’.

      • Yes it has to be commercially viable. Council isn’t intending to fund this venue.

        Your earlier post has some content that I would like a second opinion on before authorising as it sailing a little to close to the wind for my comfort. I’ll get that done ASAP tomorrow and then put up if OKed.


  10. Paul says:

    I totally get the link between the Fringe Festival and the J shed proposal. I have worked on many fringe events and make no mistake about it – alcohol is at the core of running a lot of the events as this festival – without it they would be running at a serious loss. Part of the sale of the alcohol goes towards paying for the funding of the artists. This could also be wonderfully achieved at the J-Shed. The use of the private sector to fund such activation has worked very well in Northbridge – its alive and activated most days of the week with minimal trouble. I am also involved in operating free film nights with been bags alongside operating alcohol venues – the mix creates a relaxed activated area where people can enjoy both alcohol and artistic endeavors. This can also be achieved at J-shed. The possibilities are exciting.

  11. Mark says:

    I really can’t believe u are comparing a arts festival’s to a large pub.
    The only reason for the music at j shed is to bring more people in to the bar to sell more beer for a longer period.
    It’s comparing Apples and bananas
    The music events at the arts centre brings in different demographics mix to what a pub with a band playing would, family’s to start with.
    Also the alcohol is not the main driving force of the event, here at j shed it will be all about selling beer, making alcohol the main driving force of the event, everything else is just window dressing.
    You made a good alcohol policy, shame it’s not good enough for u to enforce or even follow.
    If u don’t believe in the policies u write, how do u expect the electors in Fremantle, to have trust or believe in the council, u say one thing and then do another?

  12. Nige says:

    you say council is not intending to fund the pub/barn. but by offering it at such a low rent for such a long time we the rate payers are funding it..

  13. Nige says:

    So how much is that? I have heard they will be charged $50.000 per annum over the 21year period

  14. Andrew says:

    You suggest that you will have in the agreement words like:

    “the primary character of the operation will be a micro-brewing and artisan food provider as part of an iconic and high-quality music venue, and that one of the key functions of the venue will be to support and showcase a diverse range of arts and creative industries including exhibiting J Shed and Arthur Head artists’ work as a priority”

    “A commitment to maintain a well-balanced focus on food, craft beverages, creative industries and music as appropriate to service the arts precinct and foreshore setting”

    “A commitment to ongoing investment in programmes that support the creative industries being centred at the venue”

    “Developing a venue that is welcoming to the broad public including tourists, families and beach goers as appropriate to this inner city waterfront location of considerable cultural significance”.

    Have you, the Council’s legal or contracts teams, or independent legal experts considered how that is going to be measured and legally enforced? I doubt it. Those statements are so vague and open to interpretation that a half decent lawyer and commercially strategic business owner could easily make a successful case that those requirements are met without doing anything like what you, and the council, seemingly imagine for the site. Little Creatures or the Sail and Anchor, could easily agree to those terms without noticeably changing their business model:

    Take Little Creatures as an example:

    * primary character: micro brewing and artisan food. Check

    * iconic: check (it’s a local icon, right?)

    * high quality music venue: We’ll simply add a couple of local musos in the corner on Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday arvos…just like other pubs. Check.

    * support arts and creative industries. Check. We already do that with the gallery space upstairs

    * well-balanced focus. Check. Well balanced focus on four separate things… in the absence of a definition we can easily argue that our balance, which makes the venue viable, is “well balanced”

    * commitment to ongoing investment. Well, we already financially support the Print Awards each, and we can throw some discounted beer in for local artists’ exhibition openings, perhaps buy some art for the walls every so often, spend a few grand on an annual bursary or something. No problem. Check.

    You may think that is not how businesses thinks or behaves…and maybe it is not how Sunset thinks…but at the end of the day a business needs to extract the best possible value out of its investment and that means maximising the profitable parts of the enterprise and minimising the unprofitable parts…and as others have stated, it is the alcohol that makes things like Fringe viable, not the artistic element. If it were otherwise we would see lots of new music and arts venues opening, right?

    So, if you wish to seriously compare the J-Shed proposal to something like the Fringe Festival, PIAF, or concerts at the Fremantle Arts Centre then your mechanism to ensure this should be to legally contract the operator of the J-Shed premises to only be able to sell alcohol and food when performances are taking place (or imminent) – that ensures that arts is the central focus and attracts the kind of “non-idiots” you seek to be out and about in Fremantle after dark.

    If that is not commercially viable – and given the closure of Kulcha and ongoing struggles of the Fly By Night you would have to assume not – then so be it.

    Or the Council can just call a spade a spade, stop pretending this is an arts-centred initiative, and vote on approving or rejecting a new commercial pub and occasional concert venue.


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