Square plan B pops up

Fremantle’s local history librarian Stewart Alger and councillor Hannah Fitzhardinge: A pop-up museum in the council’s civic centre if a restaurant falls through?

A FREMANTLE councillor says the city should look to “plan B” if it can’t lease out a hospitality space in its new administration building, and consider turning it into a pop-up museum and art gallery.

Beaconsfield warder Hannah Fitzhardinge said although discussions with the owners of Clancy’s pub about expanding from their Princess May Park into the square were still ongoing, it’s time to start thinking about alternatives.

Cr Fitzhardinge is the chair of a working group that has morphed from looking at the renaming of Kings Square to finding ways of establishing it as a major attractor and catalyst for the revitalisation of the CBD. The council recently called for businesses to join the group, but has had to extend the deadline after there weren’t enough takers.

Cr Fitzhardinge said she thinks the original invitation might have been swamped by WA’s Covid outbreak and shutdown, but says it’s important the council doesn’t get lumped with sole responsibility for activating the square.

She says if the bar/restaurant can’t initially get up, the council’s extensive local history and multi-million art collections might help bring people in.

“The art collections is one of the best in WA, and when we had some of it on display at the Fremantle Arts Centre …. the feedback we got was incredible,” Cr Fitzhardinge said.

The plan also got the nod from Fremantle Society president John Dowson, as he’d previously flagged an art gallery or museum as part of the square redevelopment.

Mr Dowson said he was pleased the local history collection could be displayed, as he feared the “woke council” with its “cancel culture” would see the square dominated by Indigenous recognition while its colonial past would be ignored.

Cr Fitzhardinge said the council was planning a winter launch of the square, and while it wasn’t a traditionally popular time for openings, it meant there weren’t many other events around Perth to compete with and there was a strong tradition in Europe of communities gathering together in their town square to celebrate despite the chills.

by STEVE GRANT

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