WHAT TO DO AT ARTHUR HEAD?
The city of Fremantle needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas for the failed Bathers Beach Art Precinct concept at historic Arthur Head. It was never a brilliant idea to try to make the historic Pilot’s Cottages into art studios/galleries as it was unlikely it would attract serious professional artists. The Glen Cowans photography gallery is the exception as the only professional outfit at Captain’s Lane, and the Walyalup Centre is basically closed because it has failed.
It is no good to now call for external operators to take over the Aboriginal centre because the COF lacks creativity and innovative new ideas. The tavern idea at J Shed was “applicant driven” by Sunset Events the COF told us, and in the Fremantle Herald today we read the City is fully expecting Sunset Events to take on the lease from July next year although Fremantle Council and the WAPC rejected the tavern and live outdoor music venue. Will we get another “applicant driven” loony out of scale proposal for the heritage precinct that residents, artists and heritage groups will have to fight, just because the City has run out of ideas? That is not good enough!
It is now time for the City to sit down with all the stakeholders before another unacceptable plan is proposed by Sunset Events, so we don’t have to continue the protests and negativity.
It is also time to properly acknowledge the extreme heritage significance and support the Roundhouse volunteers financially for new displays, as they attract over 120,000 visitors a year to the area, and it is time to show more respect for the long-established artists at J Shed who have been taken for granted by the City. They deserve a whole lot better than the my way or the highway attitude by the City of Fremantle!
What Arthur Head needs is improving the heritage features, proper landscaping of the J Shed A Class reserve, a sculpture park and playground, events organised by the COF and artists, a function centre for weddings and events, and a small cafe/bar with alfresco deck to enjoy historic Bathers Bay and the stunning sunsets over the Indian Ocean.
I am happy to be part of a small group to explore new options for Arthur Head. I have intimate knowledge of the area that I have visited daily for 20 years, I lived in one of the old Pilot Cottages for two and a half years, have exhibited there, curated shows, organised events and markets, taught photography, etc. and I have been a volunteer guide at the Roundhouse for eight years and I know every stone and every cave, and I know many of the local residents and small businesses, so talk to me!
Arthur Head is far too significant for Fremantle and Western Australia to just leave it to external organisations who want to make big bucks. We, the community and our elected members should be in charge of the future of one of our state’s most important historic precincts, and not wait for some applicant driven nonsense, so let’s sit down and talk because another backlash and more negativity will be even more divisive for our community!