If you’re interested in FotoFreo have a listen to the ABC National arts program HERE
Interviews with FF chair Jude Savage, FF founder Bob Hewitt and professional photographers Bo Wong and Roel Loopers.
Tomorrow the Fremantle Society will move out of the Pilot’s Cottage at Arthur Head, and I as the live-in caretaker will lose this special home. In two more months the family next door will also move out and there will no longer be residents up on the historic hill. I still believe that is wrong and that council should have concentrated their arts hub idea at J Shed, maybe even erecting a second shed there, so it would become more legible and cohesive.
The two areas of Arthur Head are too different and too far apart to promote as an arts hub, and the cottages at Captain’s and Mrs Trivett lanes should have remained residential and for the use of the Heritage Guides and Fremantle Society.
I had a fantastic time up here in the most historic part of town and am very grateful for the experience. I hope I will be able to remain in Fremantle, but finding the right and affordable new home has proved to be difficult.
I sincerely hope the City of Fremantle will finally stop neglecting this part of town and spend considerable money on renovating and maintaining the area and make it pristine.
I am shocked to hear that a mate of artist Tim Burns, who participated at Fremantle Sculpture@Bathers, was badly beaten up after the closing party last evening. I have been told he was found unconscious at J Shed. What a terrible end to a great show and a great closing evening.
It is time we get regular police presence at Arthur Head. I was surprised to see six officers walking past the sunset food market on Saturday afternoon, as it is indeed a rare sight to see the constabulary up this far west at all. I fear violence, crime, vandalism and break-ins will all escalate once the residential element has been removed to make way for artist’s studios that will be unoccupied at night.
It is certainly proof that his blog is read widely when so many people contacted Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt and me about his alleged resignation. Brad tells me even the Minister and his own mother contacted him and were concerned about him quitting the job. So to make it clear to all; “FREMANTLE MAYOR QUITS” IS AN APRIL FOOLS JOKE I created and has no substance of reality at all. Brad is very happy to continue as Freo’s number one bloke.
Sorry Brad. I thought it was pretty obvious, but clearly others got sucked in. That’s a pretty good April fools then. ; >)
Today we will have sleepy boring Fremantle back as we are used to. The annoying Street Art Festival with performers who wanted to make us laugh and smile all the time will be gone and the Cappuccino Strip will thankfully be open for traffic again and gorgeous public transport buses will return to deliver diesel fumes to those mad enough to sit at street cafes there.
Further west Bathers Beach will become a pristine beach again and the visual clutter of the sculptures of Sculpture@Bather will be gone, the homeless can return drinking under the boardwalk and the dust bowl in front of Kidogo Arthouse will become that beautiful industrial desert again, the way it was conceived by those who plan things that should not be used by people.
Today we’ll return to red tape, boring bureaucracy and a sense of despair that it is so hard to change Freo and make it a better and more relaxed place. The closing party at Kidogo last night resembled the Kelp Bar during ISAF, but will Kelp ever be resurrected. Not even Easter has given me confidence in that. Fremantle has its own cross to bear because progress is painfully slow while property prices are painfully high, and lack of good leadership at the City sometimes makes me feel like being nailed to the cross looking down at a city that makes it excruciatingly difficult for itself.
Would people buy property in Fremantle if developers build hundreds of apartments or would they rather buy in Highgate and elsewhere where it will costs them substantially less? How can the prices for rental properties come down in Freo so that people on an average or low income can also afford to live in the city they love, and are not forced to move to the burbs. Is the Mayor right Fort Knox apartments are hard to sell, and if so are the skeptics, who claim Fremantle would over develop if PSA 49 became a reality, right. How can we avoid becoming a city of white elephants with massive vacant residential, retail and office space? Do developers actually want to build substantial projects here? Should we have prioritised improvements for tourism instead of wanting to be Western Australia’s second city?
What is going to happen at Kings Square and when will we see the start of it, with yet another advisory committee planned for the area, and the City of Fremantle unable to show they received legal advise on the contested Joint Venture aspect of their deal with Sirona Capital. Who has not done their homework here?
People keep telling me they don’t understand what is going on at the City of Fremantle. Many are keen to make changes at the October election and get people on council who make more sense than some who make flabbergasting decisions now, others hope the State Government will introduce local government amalgamations which would see the election of a whole new council for an enlarged Fremantle. Till then we might just go back to sleep and dream nothing bad will happen in our cute little city.
Phone calls, emails, people stopping me in the street. Brad Pettitt is resigning as Mayor of Fremantle. It was an April Fools joke of course and Brad will remain till the next election.
I am skeptical about the calls by the Western Australian Police for more restrictions and legislation to deal with drunks, because there are plenty of laws in place already that don’t appear to be enforced. Why do we need a law to outlaw drunks from pubs when the responsible service of alcohol rules already apply? What needs to be done is to enforce those rules, so that greedy operators don’t continue to serve alcohol to people already severely affected by it. All it needs is to put a few officers with video cameras outside pubs and film those unable to walk who fall out of pubs past the bouncers. I have witnessed that often in Fremantle. It happens every weekend.
It is also already illegal to sell alcohol to under-aged people, but high school teenagers will tell you there are bottles shops in Freo all too happy to sell them alcohol in large amounts. To repeat myself, the laws need to be enforced and premises that don’t comply need to be shut down as punishment. Once it is hurting the back pocket severely they will learn the lesson of stopping to supply alcohol to minors and drunks.
But let’s forget the laws for a bit and ask why it is that people go out to get drunk. Stunning young women all dressed up to impress, often behave like trash once alcohol, and maybe other drugs, kill their sense of decency, self-worth and respect. It is awful to watch. Why do people need excessive amounts of alcohol to feel comfortable to socialise, is it insecurity, low self-esteem, or simply utter boredom or lack of social skills? Will laws ever change people’s unwillingness to take responsibility for themselves when they drink and consume drugs. I doubt it. Will closing hotels earlier let people drink less? I doubt it again, going by my observations of Scotland in the 80s when pubs closed very early and locals were in a mad rush to consume as much booze as they could get down their throats fast, ordering multiple drinks at the same time so there was no waiting lull between drinks.
Violence on the streets and domestic often happens because of alcohol and so do car crashes. It’s not an accident to crash a car while drink driving, it’s a crime, a deliberate act of irresponsible and anti-social behaviour. That should be rammed down the throats of the fools who have no concern for what damage they do to their community. As for those who serve alcohol irresponsibly. Close them down for six months. That will teach them.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not a wowser or against alcohol. I believe responsible drinking of alcohol is all part of the social fabric of our society. I love a couple of glasses of red or a few cold beers when socialising with mates, and there have been many occasions in my long life where I had a glass or two too many, but I have never left home, or stayed at home, to deliberately get drunk. Losing face is not something I like and not a hobby we should aspire to. It’s pretty ugly.
What is required to developing a unique historic city like Fremantle into a modern place for the future while retaining its special character and lifestyle?
Medium to high density human-scale housing spread all throughout the city that includes affordable accommodation for low income earners and students needs to be mixed with top quality upmarket dwellings built above ground level retail outlets, bars, cafes, restaurants. It is imperative to spread higher density-not highrise- dwellings throughout the city and not concentrate on the inner city around Kings Square alone. 4-6 storey buildings along Marine Terrace, South Fremantle for example would be good, as would buildings of up to 15 storeys behind Monument Hill at the Knutsford/Amherst Street development. A good height for new Fremantle buildings is six storeys and heights should be capped at no more than 29 metres in the CBD.
A mix of office, residential and retail occupancy in buildings should also be encouraged to make sure office buildings are not dark unlit spaces at night. Where people live there will be constant surveillance that will add to the safety of the area.
Improved local and metropolitan public transport needs to accommodate the predicted influx of new residents, office workers and people working in the retail and hospitality industries. Better connections with Coogee, Curtin and Murdoch Uni and hospital are also needed.
Fremantle needs to do more to keep visitors in the city, so it is essential to create inner city hotels and tourist attractions, e.g. Migrant Museum, Indigenous Cultural Centre, etc. The Warders Cottages in Henderson Street could become short term B&B. A stunning hotel overlooking Kings Square at Queens Street between High and Adelaide streets would mean a constant stream of visitors and users of the CBD.
Inner city parking could be improved with an underground car park under Fremantle Oval as part of the Stan Reiley site development. Shuttle services on weekends and during festivals from parking areas on the periphery of Fremantle to the inner city should also be considered.
Performing art spaces like Victoria Hall and the Town Hall need to be better utilised to the benefit of residents and visitors alike. Victoria Hall in particular should become a thriving performance center with a permanent café/bar, to accommodate groups like the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra, Harbour Theatre, contemporary music events, etc.
Bathers Beach and Arthur Head need to have improved pathways, lighting, signage and legibility, and the connectivity between them and Victoria Quay needs to be improved. There need to be more ‘linger nodes’ in these areas with improved seating and shade.
It is essential to keep all historic buildings in the area in excellent condition and a maintenance agenda needs to be met by the City. There is need for cafes/bars along our inner city Bathers Beach for people to enjoy the sunset, have wedding and corporate functions, etc.
The East End needs better integration so that Princess May Park becomes a stopover on the way to the Leisure Centre, Arts Centre and, the to be developed, new Cantonment Hill attractions.
The opening of small bars should be encouraged and made easier by cutting through red tape. At present the process is frustratingly long and people pull out.
Fremantle needs to become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and South Terrace should be closed off for traffic on weekends while Marine Terrace needs safe pedestrian crossings. Maybe dedicate certain streets as bicycle streets only on busy weekends?
The Cappuccino Strip should continue to Wray Avenue by creating full time alfresco outside Fremantle Markets and also at the TAFE building opposite. The synagogue and the to be developed Stan Reilly site should also open up to the street.
With an ageing population it is important to cater for them as well and not assume everyone can or will use public transport or ride bicycles and scooters. Families will also require parking bays at apartments because they need cars to get children to sporting events, etc. While less cars is desirable reality dictates what needs to be done.
Cities develop and become vibrant through people, so more and better public and green spaces in the inner city are essential. The inner city has to be children friendly. Where youth want to linger parents will stay longer for coffee, a meal or go shopping. Activity pockets and linger nodes need to be created all around town.
The planned skate park should be moved to the north or south of the Esplanade. It is good to have the Youth Plaza in the inner city, but the few green inner city spaces we have left need to be preserved. There is no need to put the plaza on the Esplanade Reserve.
Developing Victoria Quay is a fantastic opportunity to do something outstanding for Fremantle. Fremantle Ports as a state government agency should do all it can to insist on high quality of design, architecture and buildings that will become and attraction and destination for visitors and locals.
Development should be good for Fremantle but it needs to be planned in great detail and not leave anything to chance. Traffic studies about traffic flow and parking are as important as where pedestrians will rest, linger and feel at home. Cyclists need to be accommodated, awnings that keep the rain and sun away from shoppers, new entertainment and tourism attractions need to be created, Bathers Beach needs to be better promoted as does our historic Arthur Head, access to Victoria Quay needs to become easier and more legible.
Kings Square and Point Street should set the benchmark for excellence in building design and quality for the rest of future Fremantle projects.
There is a myriad of things to be done and considered before development should be allowed. Development should be designed around public open space, so that open spaces are not just the small left over spaces developers don’t want to use. Planting of trees and bushes should also be prioritised at new development.
Ad hoc development that disregards the big picture on what Fremantle should look like in 20 years from now is not good enough. Fremantle council needs to be vigilant about that and not act in panic and develop at all cost. There needs to be constant awareness that developing Fremantle can’t be only about economic development or development for development sake. It needs to be developing a better lifestyle and ambiance, a better city to live, work and play in. The priority should be place making not money making.
We are developing Freo’s future and need to get it right. Second best is not an option!
The call by Fremantle Chamber of Commerce CEO Tim Milsom for a forum on arts in Fremantle is an interesting one because art and culture are diverse and huge and hard to put in one basket. How do we support all the different aspects? What might work for visual art might be irrelevant for performing art. A sculptor has different needs than a painter, and the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra again has totally different requirements.
Visual artists and galleries are struggling because there are not enough art collectors. Art galleries demand commissions of at least 40% of the sales price and if artworks need to be framed it is hard for artists to make a profit from exhibitions because they’ll pay for the framing, plus commission, plus opening costs, plus materials, plus studio rent. All that makes art often too expensive for the average punter as even emerging artists have to put ridiculously high prices on their works to at least cover costs.
The musicians of the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra are a dedicated lot and often perform great concerts for next to nothing. Their payment depends on how many people attend and often the hourly rate they receive after many rehearsals is less than that of a waiter in a pizza cafe. How do we solve that problem without major sponsorship?
Contemporary musicians find it hard to get gigs and often have to fight to get paid if the public does not turn up at the venues. How are we going to change that?
Commercial galleries close because of lack of sales and high rents. What to do about that?
Is a forum on arts going to change any of this? I have my doubts. What would be helpful is an on line calendar where all arts practitioners can enter their events, exhibitions, etc, so that they don’t take the audience away from each other by having openings on the same day. That needs to be better coordinated. I know I miss out on many arts events because I have already committed to go to another one on the same day and often even at the same time of the day.
Individuals make a difference and need support from the City of Fremantle and State Government. Look at the great examples of Sculpture@Bathers and the Fremantle Chamber Orchestra. It is all done trough hard work by committed people, but the risk is they’ll burn out one day, like those at FotoFreo did. Arts need financial and in-kind support, not another talk fest.
The Fremantle Society would like to find out what makes you tick and what it would take to get you involved in community work. There are many unhappy, dissatisfied people in Fremantle who shake their head and tell me they have no idea any more how the City of Fremantle works.
Take part in the very short survey HERE!