Fremantle arts scene a ‘very mixed story’

The Chamber of Commerce and the City of Fremantle held a meeting last week with a number of representatives from the arts community to discuss the issues facing the arts after the closure of a number of galleries, the Deckchair Theatre and more recently the cancellation of FotoFreo.

Mr Milsom said the main issue that came out of the meeting was a need to establish a forum that could be used among the arts community to help each other out.

‘All these things seem to be happening in Fremantle in the arts but basically what we are hearing is the demise of certain fragments of the arts and we need to understand why; but at the moment we haven’t got a forum in place to enable dialogue of an overall vision for the arts.

‘We need to get on paper what is happening in the arts in Fremantle, who is doing what and get something together to help share resources and funds.

‘We need to identify what (resources) we have and come up with a plan to put in place what we don’t.’

While some aspects of the arts culture of Fremantle are struggling, Mayor Brad Pettitt says the success of events such as the Fremantle Street Arts Festival and the creation of new events such as Sculpture@Bathers showed arts still played a big role in the city.

He said the arts were changing in Fremantle and more support was needed to keep the arts culture vibrant, fresh and healthy.

‘As a whole I don’t think the arts are in decline, but I do think that some sectors are struggling and there is plenty of room for improvement,’ he said.

‘I think [the arts] is valued by the community but there is also the reality that people have access to many more forms of entertainment and virtual arts and culture than they have previously, which can make it harder getting people to shows.

‘It is a very mixed story and not simply one of decline, there is an amazing amount of good stuff happening at the moment.’

Artitja Fine Arts Gallery director Anna Kanaris said she did not believe there was a decline in terms of artist practice and activity but that more needed to be done to unite the different aspects of art in the city.

‘Fremantle is still an artistic hub but it’s not entirely coherent,’ she said.

‘There are pockets of activity here and there with different demographic audiences, which is not a problem in itself but it doesn’t lend itself to the city being seen as a cultural hub like the City of Perth is now seen.

‘We have all the ingredients to become a much-touted arts and cultural precinct, however, it will only survive and prosper if there is a real commitment from all levels of Government to provide structure and support for that to happen in Fremantle.’