While the City of Fremantle has been contemplating how to activate historic Arthur’s Head, long time occupants are already doing it well and appropriately.
Yesterday we had a huge crowd at the Roundhouse for the Nyoongar smoking ceremony and for the last weeks we had sell-out performances inside the Roundhouse in the evenings for the Out of the Cave Fringe Festival show. See the photo above I took last night at 7.45 pm.
Great also that Glen Cowans opened his underwater photography gallery next to the Roundhouse early at 9 am yesterday during the smoking ceremony!
Down the road at J Shed the number 2, 3 and 4 galleries with Greg James, Janet Nixon, Jina Lee, Lesley Barret, Jenny Dawson, Peter Zuvela, Ross Potter and Ellen McCarthy are all involved in activation. Sculptures are on the reserve, exhibitions are organised, there are programs for school children during the holidays and a real engagement with the community.
Interesting that one Freo Councillor said to me yesterday that when the Roundhouse puts new displays up we need to acknowledge the Nyoongar people, and that is already planned. But we are waiting for the City to put power into the Roundhouse so we can start applying for grants and it would also be a very good idea for the City to allocate a substantial amount of money for that to support the volunteer organisation. We are looking after over 130,000 visitors a year, seven days a week and only close on Good Friday and Christmas Day, so we are a significant tourist destination.
At the smoking ceremony four of the elderly Roundhouse guides came in very early to support the event. Pretty bloody good I reckon, and two of them were on duty every night for the theatre performance!
I regularly catch up with leasing and retail expert Nicholas Takacs of abeatifulcity and of course we talk about the decline of Fremantle’s retail often. For me these meetings are educational because Nicholas goes all over Perth to check out how different retailers do business, market themselves, beautify their shops, etc. and he also is contracted to put up people counters in shopping centres and streets and he gives advise to traders and centre managers.
I am not qualified to put words into Nicholas mouth, so what I am writing about are just my thoughts inspired by the long talk I had with him yesterday at Gino’s where we talked about the importance and success of local shopping destinations like Claremont Crescent in Swanbourne, Angove Street in North Perth, Oxford Street in Leederville and that lovely Angelo Street one in South Perth, to name just a few.
That made me think about how we say that retail in Fremantle is not doing well, when we actually mean it is not doing well in the CBD. Out of that comes the question if we should make the CBD bigger by including successful shopping destinations such as the Peaches and IGA strip along Hampton Road, the Romano’s and IGA shopping precinct at Lefroy Road, Woolworth further down Hampton Road on the corner of Douro Road, the Hilton shopping area at South Street, etc. Retail in those and many other smaller shopping ‘centres’ is doing very well and that is probably because of proximity but because they also provide a community feeling not unlike markets. Maybe retail thinking in the old ‘High Street’ way is passe and localised destinations are the future of retail instead of the centralised CBD.
This brings me to another point Nicholas and I talked about and that is that property owners in the High Street Mall are finally cleaning up and beautifying vacant shops there. It looks so much better that one has to wonder why it took so long to get this done.
Nicholas has a very good blog that might inspire retailers to spruce up their shops, change the way they present and market, so check it out: http://www.abeautifulcity.com/