FREMANTLE mayor Brad Pettitt says it’s time to get the city’s creative heart beating again.
As the council this week voted on an interim economic development plan, Dr Pettitt acknowledged creative industries hadn’t got the attention they needed while the previous focus had been on jobs and investment.
He said the city’s economic base was back on a strong footing, with 1500 state workers soon to move in to Kings Square and a raft of developments coming on line, leaving the city in a good position to broaden its focus.
“The creative sector is at the heart of what makes Freo special, from the This is Fremantle brand to what attracts people to Fremantle as an authentic and creative city.”
He said the city needed to support spaces and programs that would help the creative community thrive, particularly as the city’s resurgence was likely to push up property prices and rents.
“A possible first step would be to do an audit of the creative spaces and identification of gaps, and plan for investment in new spaces.”
Dr Pettitt said the semi-industrial area on the fringe of the city had potential to expand if nurtured, and flagged another crack at the failed arts precinct at Arthur Head.
He also pointed to makers studios inside the FOMO development in Kings Square as having a potential for unique retail.
The mayor wants the city to develop a strategy to support and protect creative industries and learn from places like Nottingham, which in 2012 launched a revitalisation plan which led to the creation of a “Creative Quarter” around its historic lace market. Described as an “incubator without walls”, its been credited with creating thousands of jobs in the digital and creative businesses.
The council adopted the interim plan partly on the basis of trying to time a more substantial document to coincide with the next state government election.
It contains six action areas which include improving the council’s access to data, developing a program of “investment marketing”, more place activation, supporting existing businesses, continued destination marketing, advocacy and developing industries that might naturally be drawn to the city.
It suggests pursuing opportunities linked to the growth in the Trade Coast regions of Henderson, Kwinana and Rockingham.
“Focus should also be given to emerging opportunities surrounding the ‘Blue-Tech’ and ocean-based industries across the Indian Ocean Rim,” the plan says.
It also suggests that Fremantle’s cafe and restaurant scene has room to expand, although some cafe owners have previously complained to the Herald that a glut of new start-ups has spread their margins dangerously thin.
by STEVE GRANT