Freo's View

SHOULD RATEPAYERS PAY FOR DREAMS?

 

Two articles in the Fremantle Herald this weekend should be a little eye-opener for Fremantle Council, and hopefully they have learned some lessons.

The front page is all about the City wanting to support the creative sector more with their interim economic development action plan, while inside the paper former Councillor Tim Grey-Smith is rightly annoyed that City Ward candidates use the demise of his business for political election reasons.

The lesson is that the City of Fremantle should of course support the creative sector, but should be very aware not to support unsustainable small businesses, because the unrecoverable debts the City writes off regularly are of great concern to the ratepayers.

Kulcha, Fly by Night, art studios at Captain’s Lane, the Soup cafe, etc. all cost the City much-needed income, because lack of market research and too much naivety and dreams are not really helpful to make a good business case for new small businesses, and when they flounder the ratepayers pay for the failures.

City properties should create income for the community, and while subsidised leases might well be helpful for start-ups, these cases need to be carefully considered. How many of us can recall the City investing $ 20,000 as part of the One Planet policy to get a business starting to grow mushrooms from coffee waste? It was successful for just over a year and has now disappeared.

We have successful creative businesses such at Greg James, Jenny Dawson and Jina Lee at J Shed, and Kidogo Arthouse, and the Glen Cowans photo gallery at Captain’s Lane who pay full commercial rates, but their future is uncertain because Fremantle Council has failed to appreciate how important these art businesses are for Fremantle, so any new ideas need to first deal with giving these artists the certainty of tenure they deserve, before heading of yet again into dreamworld.

Roel Loopers

FREMANTLE SUPPORT FOR CREATIVE SECTOR

Posted in art, city of fremantle, creative, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 17, 2019

 

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has published a discussion paper on the City’s Economic Development Interim Action Plan that I believe is worth sharing with Freo’s View readers in a slightly edited shorter version. I post it here:

The Economic Development Interim Action Plan 2020 – 2022 that has been developed in order to provide a temporary plan for the delivery of city led economic development activities while a new economic development strategy is developed for beyond 2020.

The creative sector is at the heart of what makes Freo special from the This is Fremantle brand to  what attracts people to Fremantle as an authentic and creative city.

Over the past two economic development strategies we have focussed on – and been successful in – attracting investment, jobs and people back into Fremantle. But these have primarily been centred on attracting mainstream industries and jobs such as state government jobs. In addition to this we have successfully enabled primary mainstream housing options – with the exception of projects like SHAC.

That has provided as strong basic economic foundation for Fremantle but what it doesn’t support, protect or enhance is the diversity of our creative industries, arts community and with this uniqueness of our brand and offering.

Now that we have got these economic fundamentals back on track there needs to be a focus over the next few years on supporting the kinds of economic activity that makes Fremantle unique and special – which is spaces and programs for our creative community to thrive and ways to expand and enhance this creative sector when the above economic resurgence will in all likelihood push up property process and rents.

Over the past two economic development strategies we have focussed on – and been successful in – attracting investment, jobs and people back into Fremantle. But these have primarily been centred on attracting mainstream industries and jobs such as state government jobs. In addition to this we have successfully enabled primary mainstream housing options – with the exception of projects like SHAC.

That has provided as strong basic economic foundation for Fremantle but what it doesn’t support, protect or enhance is the diversity of our creative industries, arts community and with this uniqueness of our brand and offering.

I strongly support assisting the creative sector, but Fremantle Council needs to be careful not to subsidise small creative businesses that are not viable in the long run and only last until the financial support finishes, as has often been the case with pop up shops and other ventures. There have been far too many ‘unrecoverable debts’ in the past in that regard.

Fremantle Council recently signed off on a film friendly city policy to encourage more film and TV crews to film in our city and one pro-active initiative they might want to consider is a location image library that is accessible on line and will save time for the often lengthy and expensive location scouting film teams engage in.

The library should especially include the hidden treasures of Fremantle; the cellars, bars, backyards, spaces such as PSAS, Fibonaci, the garden suburb of Hilton, semi industrial area around Wood Street, and also O’Connor, etc. Finding those special locations could be as simple as asking the community to report them to the location library.

Roel Loopers

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