HOPE FOR CULTURE AND COMPASSION IN FREMANTLE
The monthly Fremantle Network talk at the National Hotel this evening by representatives from Core and Hot Soup, in the Queensgate building at Kings Square, reinforced for me why I like to hang out with young people, as the positive, can do, embracing change, and challenging the status quo attitude is so refreshing and inspiring to listen to.
C0-working in creative spaces creates new dialogue, new projects and removes established boundaries, it is also good for the artists to share the costs of the space and helps them to establish a broad network in all different art forms and collaborate.
They aim is to maximise cultural and community benefits and have monthly networking events. They are broke but assist each other, and seeing results pushes them to continue with the experiment.
Artists often feel unrepresented by arts organisations as there are only few artists on boards and mainly art administrators, and artists and organisations are all competing for the limited grant funding that is available.
The Praxis art cooperation of the 70s was very successful but there needs to be substantial art funding by government, because individual artists are vital for our cultural identity.
Collectives are very good and CORE got massive help from (former Councillor) Tim Grey-Smith and the City of Fremantle council and staff to be able to establish CORE and Hot Soup. Culture needs space free of commercialisation!
At Hop Soup homeless people are made welcome and they know they can sit in the cafe for hours without having to consume anything. Customers are also encouraged to pay $ 2.00 on top of the price of a coffee or sandwich so that the Hot Soup people can give a free meal or coffee to someone who can’t afford to buy it. Great initiative!
The negotiation of space is necessary and new thinking required because the creatives might only want a space for weeks or a few months and not long-term 5 year leases. That requires flexibility.
The City of Berlin in 2014 said they needed to be careful not to displace artists to increase the price of housing. Footnote: We know that that has already happened in Fremantle where artists were forced to move to cheaper suburbs or even as far away as Margaret River and Denmark.
It is very important for authorities to recognise the changing needs of art and the need to involve different interest groups. Sustainability shows us we will have to learn to live with less and co-working, collectives and cooperatives support that. We need to allow informal process to shape a civil society and that includes informal uses of space. We are pushing up to create change!
What do we do when we fill up the empty spaces (through development). Where do the artists go then? the Fremantle Mayor asked and the answer was that they would find space elsewhere, maybe in the suburbs.
I felt really invigorated after so much enthusiasm and positivity and thought on the way home that it should not be the role of government to hold on to the status quo and that we sometimes need to break the rules to create change and progress.
I also wonder what it will take to change the rather conservative art establishment in Australia where artists have little hope becoming financially successful if they are not within the commercial gallery circuit. Gallery owners will mainly show artists whose work will sell well and art curators of private and state collections are mainly bandwagon collectors who will buy what other curators already are collecting.
To be able to get a public art commission 40% of the requirements are to have previous public art experience, which means there is a lot of same-same in public art and we rarely see challenging new art.
I reckon the CORE artists and other creative collaboratives will just have to keep pushing because creativity means pushing the boundaries of establishment.
The Bathers Beach Art Precinct is crying out for something like CORE where there is a lot of activity and a deep sense of community. Heaven forbid they might break some rules and even sit on the verandas at night and have a drink and play some music, there might even be the odd one who stays there over night, adding to the night time security and activation of the area. Bring it on!
I am very happy I attended tonight’s Fremantle Network meeting as it gave me a lot of hope for the future of art, culture and compassion in Fremantle!