Artist Spark ignites Chinatown

Written on the 20 October 2016

Artist Spark ignites Chinatown

Local Broome artists and artisans wore their art on their sleeve last week to ignite Chinatown with a guerrilla gallery in the vacant retail space rear of Paspaley Plaza. 

It's estimated the 20 exhibiting artists sold as much as $10,000 in product offering confidence in the future viability of bringing more permanent retail gallery spaces back into Broome's CBD.

Artist Spark was an open invitation to all local artists and artisans to use the 600m2 space offered by Paspaley as a free opportunity to showcase their talent and activate an otherwise dead-space in Chinatown. 

A community-led initiative, the idea was sparked by manager of Short St Gallery Anthony Simmons and managed by Lachie Fraser of the Broome Factory, alongside Agunya's Andy Grieg with the help of Chris Maher.

Within just 10 days of seeding the idea, the event was a brilliant showcase of the community's drive and willingness to celebrate Broome's unique art and attend events in Chinatown.

Anthony Simmons said, "We're looking at something with huge potential, the roll-on effects of this could be the beginning of the revitalisation with a bill that's actually not too high.

"This wasn't a a project for speculators, it was a project for the health of the town in which we all live.  Instead of endless committees this was an action to get things moving." 

Anthony said in a UN report in 2012 it was identified the highest spending tourists are those seeking culture, who stay longer in a region and every dollar spent on art brings $6 into the community. 

"I firmly believe in a few years we won't just have this cultural reputation in Broome, but an international one," said Anthony.

It's hoped that the revitalisation of Chinatown will bring the local artists and artisans from home studios into public retail outlets and re-ignite the unique cultural elements of the town centre. 

The official opening was organised by a newly formed community group called Ignite Chinatown, and attracted hundreds of locals and tourists, with a steady flow of traffic browsing through the venue throughout the week.

In a true show of solidarity to make the event happen, Artist Spark was supported by the Shire of Broome who donated funds toward the set up, and H&M Tracey who offered in-kind infrastructure.

[image:  Nick Hanigan with Lachie Fraser in front of a miniature scale of Sun Pictures built by Lachie)

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