If the City of Fremantle is serious about an Aboriginal cultural centre in Fremantle it has to stop the tokenism and invest money and get expert advise on how to provide an Aboriginal experience for overseas visitors.
It is known from tourism surveys that many visitors complain about the lack of opportunities to meet Aboriginal people and engage with them and get to know more about their culture and history.
I don’t like to say it, but I told you so when I still lived at Captain’s Lane that the Walyalup Centre in a tiny old cottage was never going to work. Even Councillor Rachel Pemberton said at the FPOL committee meeting this week that Councillors knew the cottage at Arthur Head would not be perfect but it was a case of better something than nothing.
In my opinion it was also not going to work because of the wrong choice of personnel to manage the centre. The cultural centre needs someone who knows how to engage with tourists, who knows how to run an art gallery and who knows how to come up with and manage events. The Aboriginal liaison officer of the City of Fremantle is not that kind of person, no matter how likeable he is and how good he is at the job he was employed for. It is unfair to expect him to run the centre and it is not his failure but that of the administration who put him in charge. I am sure his job description when he applied for the position did not mention managing a cultural centre .
A totally different energy and knowledge base is needed to run a cultural centre than the one needed to liaise between a Wadjela administration and the Whadjuk Noongar community.
If the Walyalup Centre was to be moved it should be to the No 1 studio at J Shed that was wrongly and stupidly leased to Sunset Events to create a tavern and outdoor music centre.
If the Noongar community is not against a centre at Arthur Head this is the right location because it has a large outdoor area suitable for music and dance events and story telling, while the large space of J Shed allows for serious Aboriginal art exhibitions and events that might help fund the centre and even make it self-funding over time.
Wishy-Washy Fremantle City governance and inconsistencies are to blame for the mess the Bathers Beach Art Precinct is, because there is a serious lack of quality control and lack of a real concept for the area.
Up at Captain’s Lane the City has created a night-time ghost town that has attracted anti social behaviour (I told them so!), while it has created day-time mediocrity, with the exception of the excellent and professional Glen Cowans underwater photography.
The Walyalup centre could enhance the historic, cultural and art aspect of the area and tell the Noongar stories, and the impact of British settlement and about the connection of the area to the horrendous indigenous Rottnest Island Quod prison where so many Aboriginal men died.
To do that the City needs to go through a process of consultation, expert advise and contracting the right people to run a centre of significance that will attracts many thousands of visitors each year, help activate Arthur Head and will allow the proud Noongar history to be told by our first nation people. To continue as it is in any location will be a failure that the Noongar community does not deserve.
Fremantle’s JAPINGKA GALLERY in High Street is having new exhibitions which will open tomorrow Friday the 10th of February at 6.30 pm.
In Gallery 1, Gunditjmara artist, Kurun Warun creates beautiful and striking paintings of his culture and environment, using colours that reflect natural resources and cultural body markings.
The Gunditjmara people hail from around Portland and Lake Condah regions in Victoria (between Warrnambool and Mount Gambier in the lake country to the west of Melbourne).
In Gallery 2, Tanami Desert Artists – Yuendumu & Nyirripi is an exceptional and varied exhibition of colour and stories by an acclaimed group of Warlpiri artists which is held in association with the Warlukurlangu Art Centre.
Warlpiri artists from Yuendumu in the very remote Tanami Desert were amongst the first community groups to take up the desert art movement that spread from Papunya. In fact the senior men of the community established a Museum for their cultural artefacts in 1971, at a similar time when the Papunya artists began to record the first stories painted on murals and then on boards.
The powerful artistic traditions from this remote Community (some 290 kilometres north east from Alice Springs) which were already established by artists such as both Maggie and Judy Watson Napangardi continue to grow and develop with the artists’ distinctive love of and use of colour a strong identifying element of their remarkable artistic tradition.
Both Exhibitions open 6.30pm Friday 10th February, and run daily until 29th March, 2017. Admission is Free. Japingka Gallery, 47 High Street Fremantle. Open 7 Days.
The FPOL Committee of the City of Fremantle were debating the use of the DADAA premises at Beach Street last evening and the better use and/or better return for Council owned properties.
DADAA are moving into the former Boys School and FTI building at Princess May Park and the building opposite the East Street jetty they are using will become vacant in a few months, so expressions of interest will be sought by the CoF for that building.
Councillor Rachel Pemberton suggested the building could be used for the Walyalup Aboriginal Cultural Centre, which has failed to make an impact at Arthur’s Head, but I doubt the new location would make it any more successful because it is well away from tourism routes in Fremantle.
It came as a surprise to me that Councillor Sam Wainwright said the City should be clear about what the Aboriginal centre could be, because that focus should have been there three years ago before putting the centre in a former pilot’s cottage in the heritage precinct, which the city in its wisdom made into an unsuccessful arts precinct, where they then also wanted to put a tavern and outside music venue in.
The Walyalup Centre failed to attract overseas visitors and the local Aboriginal community because it wanted to do a tiny bit of everything and lacked focus, creativity and energy.
The seasonal programs on offer were very similar each time and there was no variety. There were also no events for tourists, especially the thousands of cruiseship passengers who might well have been interested in Aboriginal music and dance and story telling.
The centre attracted only a handful of people each month when hundred metres away from it the Roundhouse gets thousands of visitors each month.
The cottage is wrong, the offerings of the centre uninspired and not focussed on attracting people, and the Aboriginal community never embraced the idea and did not make it into a community hub for Noongar people.
I doubt very much that there would be improvement if the centre moved to Beach Street because it is the lack of concept and lack of passion that made it fail at Arthur Head. Who will change that?
It is going to be a pretty good Sunday before the rain comes back next week, so why not enjoy some free concerts in Fremantle today in some of the best locations in town.
From 2-4 pm Pugsley Buzzard from Victoria will perform at the Fremantle Arts Centre and delight you with his big voice, sassy horns, chunky piano and fascinating song writing. He has performed all over the planet from Berlin to New Orleans.
From 6-9 the Harbour Sunday concert is on at the deck of the Maritime Museum, a great spot to watch the sunset!
Bluegrass Parkway, Stoney Joe and DJ Justin Walshe will entertain you there, so that should make for a great end of a beautiful weekend.
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!
A SLIDE SHOW OF THE NYOONGAR SMOKING CEREMONY AT THE FREMANTLE ROUNDHOUSE THIS MORNING.
The W.A. Nyoongar First Nation people held a major cleansing smoking ceremony at the Fremantle Roundhouse and Bathers Beach this Saturday morning.
The very moving event attracted around 1,300 people to Arthur’s Head and made me quite emotional.
This was an event about Nyoongars and Wadjelas moving forward together and left me with real hope for the future.
This was not anti Australia Day but pro Australia. It was not about victims and perpetrators but about real reconciliation with mutual respect and about considering an alternative day to celebrate Australia.
One Day in Freo continues at the Esplanade today from 2 pm and from 4 pm with a concert with Mama Kin, John Butler and Dan Sultan.
Join in and spread the love!
Non commercial organisations are free to use these photos. Just drop and drag. Credit: Roel Loopers.
P.S. Unfortunately I won’t be able to take photos of the Esplanade event as I will be on guide duty at the Roundhouse for the Fringe Festival show there this evening.
The media reports that Reclaim Australia want to hold a rally in Fremantle on Australia Day, and as someone who migrated from Europe to Australia 35 years ago I have been wondering what Reclaim Australia actually want to reclaim and whom from.
Australia has become the great nation it is because of everyone who came here, including our first nation people, who also wandered into this part of the world some 50,000 years ago.
Why is there a fear of foreigners when foreigners have helped to make Australia great? Why is there a fear of non Christians when people of other religions have lived peacefully here for hundreds of years?
Muslims from Asia traded with Aborigines long before British settlement of this continent and Muslim Afghan cameleers came to Melbourne in 1890 and were reported to be in Western Australia even earlier.
Wander through Northbridge and witness the hive of activity and the enormous success of Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Indonesian and Japanese immigrants.
Visit Fremantle and see how this city prospered because of the Italians, Greeks and Croats. Our fishing industry would not exist without them.
Look at these statistics: Nearly 50 per cent of Australians were either born overseas or have a parent who was born overseas. Two hundred languages are spoken in Australia, including 48 indigenous one, so who are the real Australians according to those who want to reclaim Australia?
Less than 3 per cent of the Australian population is Muslim and of those people 99.9 per cent are peaceful, law-abiding citizens who positively contribute to our nation. I am lucky to have made many friends with Muslim market stall holders in Fremantle, all hard-working decent family people who don’t pose a threat to anyone.
Are ‘real Australians’ only white Christian Anglo-Saxons and where does that leave our Aboriginal people and all immigrants who have been here for many generations? Are children who are born here not considered to be ‘real Australians’ when they are not white and not Christian?
What about Australia the country of freedom, tolerance and fair go for all, why does that no longer apply to those from different cultures or religions. Surely the colour of one’s skin does not affect one’s ability to be a contributing member to our society, and neither does it matter what clothes people wear.
The City of Fremantle has not cancelled Australia Day, only the fireworks. There is a citizenship ceremony on the 26th where we welcome many new Australians from all over the world and from all different cultures and religions.
It is not political correctness gone mad by some left wing loonies that many of us want to debate if a different date for Australia Day would be more appropriate for all states and territories and more respectful to our indigenous history. January 26 has only historic significance for NSW where the First Fleet arrived at Sydney Cove on that day, but it means very little to other parts of the country.
Australia only became a nation on the day of federation which is January 1, so why not have a mature debate about the issue. It does not deny anyone to celebrate Australia and it is not disrespectful to any part of our history.
Moving forward and looking to the future does not mean we should belittle the wrongs of the past, but acknowledge that we can improve and become and even better society.
Freedom is all about tolerance, acceptance and the willingness to share with everyone on earth, so instead of judging and condemning difference we should embrace the diversity and multiculturalism and be grateful for the contribution immigrants have made to Australia.
Giving EVERYONE a Fair Go is what Australia Day should be all about!
The Sunday Music Sessions in the courtyard of the Fremantle Arts Centre are very popular. It is a great community event for young and old and the perfect spot for catching up with friends.
This afternoon from 2-4 pm The Dashleys will hook you in with their charismatic blend of rich pop harmonies, rhythm, blues and rock.
Opening the show is captivating indie-folk songstress Helen Shanahan.
This is a free event, the pizza oven will be on and the cafe and bar are open, so come along and bring some friends!
Is this ugly fence promotion for Freo Royale really the appropriate way of advertising the great fringe festival?
Why put a well-designed promo at one end of the High Street mall but this ugly black eyesore at the other end?