Arts community reacts

FREMANTLE’S creative community have reacted to last week’s story about mayor Brad Pettitt’s “conversation starter” about re-sparking the city’s creative landscape. Some were keen to work with Dr Pettitt to make it happen, others were a bit miffed that he appeared to have overlooked their achievements.

Have you seen what we do?

AS one of the Arthur Head artisans within the Bather’s Beach Arts Precinct, I feel that I need to respond to the negative statement from Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt on the front page of last week’s Fremantle Herald (“Getting creative”).

Unfortunately this blanket statement would seem to include my own Glen Cowans’ Studio at the Roundhouse, plus the successful Arts businesses of Greg James Sculpture Studio, Jenny Dawson’s Ceramics, David Giles Artists Studio, Jina Lee Sculpture, Peter Zuvela’s Photography and perhaps even the very successful Kidogo Arthouse.

Dr Pettitt’s own blog post on October 16 omits us all from his list of successful arts businesses or artisans within Fremantle.

Why, when we are some of the most established in the currently existing arts culture of Fremantle?

Can I please clarify that it is only the council’s attempt at “micromanaging” an arts precinct that has failed.

The independent arts businesses that I have mentioned above have far from failed, in fact we have continued to be successful despite an economic climate that is struggling and being limited by insufficient “security of tenure” within our leases from council.

My own gallery for example won the Retail Excellence Award for 2019 in the Fremantle Chamber Business Awards and scores incredibly well on Trip Advisor.

We have visitors from all over Australia and the world that now seek out my gallery as a must visit when in Fremantle and to my knowledge, after almost 10 years, I am the longest running business besides the the now-gone Fremantle Pilots, that has occupied any of the cottages in Captains Lane.

So when I read about a failed arts precinct at Arthur Head, I am very dismayed that by simple default, this blanket statement includes myself and the other artists, when failed is far from where we are today.

I can only recommend that Fremantle Council look to us, the long term successful arts businesses within the precinct, as exemplars of how independent artists can operate and involve as within their architecture of how to go forward for arts in Fremantle and I welcome council to include us as part of the arts and creatives culture of Fremantle.

Glen Cowans, Glen Cowans
Fine Art Underwater Photography Gallery

‘Perplexed’

I WAS delighted to read on last week’s front page (“Getting creative”) that Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt wants “to support spaces and program that would help the creative community thrive” but somewhat perplexed that according to the Herald, he “flagged another crack in the failed arts precinct at Arthur Head”.

As a key business of “the creative sector at the heart of what makes Freo special” and a member of the Bathers Beach Art Precinct, I’m not sure why the mayor or the Herald would characterise the precinct as “failed”.

My Studio 11 in the precinct provides studios for seven artists in residence, and provides an open-studio experience for locals and tourists to enjoy all year round, with approximately 2000 visiting each year.

Studio 11 also provides a variety of community art classes with more than 500 participating in the five years.

This has included several courses for artists living with a disability as well as a number of artists with disability attending our mainstream classes.

We have also had art markets, yoga classes, free demonstrations, and international residencies.

As a professional artist of 25 years standing with 20 awards and numerous international exhibitions to my name, I am not impressed at being identified as failed.

The other artists I know in the precinct are all successful artists, many whom have been full time artists for a long time; no small feat.

Dr Pettitt talks about supporting existing creative businesses.

It would be great for him to be “talking up” the hard work that all the successful artist businesses of the Bathers Beach Arts Precinct (and elsewhere in Freo) put, into creating the Freo Brand rather than tarring our largely thriving hard working precinct as “failed”.

A “clarification” from the mayor would be a good first step in supporting rather than attacking the city’s creatives and the good community and economic development work we do.

David Giles
The David Giles Art Gallery

Balancing act

FREMANTLE mayor Brad Pettitt’s plan to provide more support for the sector is great news for Fremantle artists.

Getting the balance right will be the challenge. In my view, consultation with the sector to develop a workable approach is vital to a successful outcome.

Having worked in Bathers Beach Arts Precinct/Arthur Head for the past 27 years I can say that this group of artists has developed and flourished through their own endeavours to each become successful arts-based businesses.

This group of professional artists provide employment and training to artists. They also encourage community involvement through open days and exhibitions.

Personally I would be delighted to be part of the discussion with the mayor on how to bring about positive change.

Greg James,
Greg James Sculpture Studio Gallery at J Shed

Bring it on

WE welcome the mayor’s announcement regarding council’s focus on Freo’s creative sector and particularly on our location, the Arthur’s Head Arts Precinct (renamed Bathers Beach Arts Precinct).

The Bathers Beach Arts Precinct is an active, thriving and successful group. We hope this latest initiative by council will provide the missing elements of proper recognition, reliable tenure, suitable promotion and maintenance to raise the profile of a community unique in WA.

The precinct has at times suffered from insufficient recognition and support by council but in spite of that, its artists have worked to overcome that and have raised its profile and increased visitation.

The area is very successful and its creatives have been self-sustaining and most have paid commercial rents for many years.

Jenny Dawson
J Shed Fremantle artist

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