Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Can free rent for artists make the city cool?

Posted by occidentprone on July 30, 2008

There’s a plan afoot to turn dead retail space in the dead heart of dead Perth city into artists’ garrets.

The West Australian‘s paper edition today – but AGAIN not the website – reports property groups such as Hawaiian are making upstairs spaces in the Carillon and the Hay and Murray street malls available at low rent or even no rent to artists. Perth Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi says the landlords are “good corporate citizens”.

More than 90 artists are on a waiting list for city studio space.

Can a place be made cool like this? Can a bohemian vibe be manufactured in this way by the city council?

I don’t see why not. Artists’ ghettoes have long been in places that were dead to the more materially minded and Perth city is in need of resuscitation. And by jewellers and painters and artisans moving in, paradoxically, it becomes cool again.

In a post a few months back I looked at some criteria for making a place desirable but outside the obvious shopping-cafe precinct kind of way. Free rent is another way to draw life back in.

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3 Responses to “Can free rent for artists make the city cool?”

  1. skink said

    yeah, I heard about this through a mate at Form gallery – but seems liek they are doing it the wrong way – I can’t imagine artists wanting to work in commercial retail space in the Malls – especially since they will be turfed out as soon as the retail market picks up and paying tenants are available. Jo Derbyshire was leading the artists group trying to find space as a replacement for Gotham and other northbridge sites – I think they had something more gritty in mind than Carrillion

  2. Kirby said

    Why call yourself an artist if you dont want people to see your work. Being used in a comercial sence is something an artist might just have to get used to,, and the dark, beautiful upstairs areas in many of these Perth buildings are something i would personally love to work in.

  3. occidentprone said

    It’s sad to see the city’s main CBD become unwanted space just by being so undesirable for retailers and shoppers. But this kind of cycle – premium shopping centre to glittery chain stores to low-rent teen hangout to abandoned thug central then building back up through subversive use of space to gritty artists hangout to urban cool back to premium centre – happens the world over.
    It’s a byproduct of trends and fickle consumers and our need for the new. We don’t want to run with the masses, we want to be ahead of the masses so what’s cool (and where) is always up for debate and renewal.
    Why shouldn’t people outside the masses and also those who can’t afford to keep up take advantage of our shallow and everchanging taste?
    Besides which a decent glass artist off the Hay St Mall would be a breath of fresh air. (Can they put kilns in upstairs spaces?)

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