A NEW group of city residents, traders and property owners have banded together to breathe life into Perth’s inner city.
Activate Perth was borne out of the City Summit, held by Perth Labor MP John Carey in August.
Two of the summit’s top recommendations were to form an organisation to help get pop ups and events in some of the many vacant buildings in the city, and to make it more family friendly.
Inaugural chair Anne-Maree Ferguson, who has a background in events management, says that during the summit there was a feeling that “the city had lost the spring in its step,” and they formed the group modelled on the successful Renew Adelaide.
With a vacancy rate hovering around 21 per cent for CBD buildings, Ms Ferguson says it makes sense to use these places to host pop up businesses, arty events or shared offices.
She says it benefits the landlords, because empty spaces can cost more to maintain and are more likely to attract vandalism, and the temporary pop ups can lead to paid leases.
“In Adelaide they’ve been predominantly IT companies, cafes, and smaller retail stores that’ve come in free of charge, and they’ve actually found with 30 per cent of cases those arrangements turn into paid leases,” she says.
Activate Perth will act as an intermediary, matching up people with empty places, and it’s hoped the plan will especially help female entrepreneurs.
“Our isolation means we have a relatively large number of girl bosses,” Ms Ferguson says.
“There are literally thousands of women working at home, some with kids, some without, and we’d love to bring them into the city.
“It can be lonely working alone, and bringing them into the city puts them in contact with customers and other entrepreneurs.” The CBD has lots of nighttime entertainment and shopping, but AP want to attract more students.
“There are around 8,000 students a day that visit the city, and most of them come in, go to their relevant institution, and leave again,” Ms Ferguson says.
There are a fair few city events aimed at younger people, but they’re not always publicised widely, so Ms Ferguson says AP will be “connecting the dots, just ensuring students are aware of the opportunities.”
The group’s currently recruiting volunteers for an “activation army,” calling on ideas to help make Perth more memorable, social and loveable. You can get in touch via their page at http://www.facebook.com/ActivatePerth
by DAVID BELL