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Freo Council cancels the 8th annual Easter Westend Weekender

The City of Fremantle has once again dealt a detrimental blow to the local business community.

The council is denying the High Street businesses the opportunity to conduct their 8th annual street market in conjunction with the International Street Arts Festival. Council’s decision  has left many business owners feeling frustrated and alienated.

Mr Caleb Gamba-Mantle, Business Engagement Partner for the City of Fremantle attributes the lack of “time, resources and budget available for this year’s event” for the cancellation.  Despite being locally run and managed by businesses, it incurs little to no cost or time commitment from the council.

The eagerly anticipated yearly occasion is of great importance to numerous small business owners located on High St, as it serves as a platform for showcasing their products and services, amplifying foot traffic, and cultivating an exuberant festival atmosphere. This event also fosters a sense of community while preserving local culture. In its absence, these small businesses would lose out on the invaluable opportunity to connect with potential customers and generate essential revenue.

Despite Mr Gamba-Mantle’s statement that “further engagement with High Street business owners” had led to the decision not to proceed with an artisan market over the 2024 Easter Weekend, there has been no direct communication or discussion with local businesses on High St regarding this matter. In these challenging times, it is imperative for small businesses and councils to work collaboratively and take a proactive approach to ensure the survival of all small businesses.

The Westend Weekender is a pivotal component of the festival, as numerous attendees from last year’s event attested that the absence of the market on the streets would have rendered it lackluster.

The High St market  is more than just a place to buy goods; it’s an experience that adds to the festival’s overall atmosphere. The variety of vendors and products available creates a vibrant and diverse environment that reflects the community’s culture and creativity. Additionally, the market provides opportunities for local businesses and entrepreneurs to showcase their talents and connect with potential customers. Its presence not only enhances the festival but also supports the growth and development of the surrounding area. Overall, the Westend Weekender market is a crucial aspect of the event, contributing to its success and significance in the community.

The weekend’s street activation serves as a crucial support system for the small businesses situated along the High St strip. The absence of a local business market results in an insufficient motivation for pedestrians to traverse down the closed-off thoroughfare. In addition, festival organisers have not designated any pitches within the Westend area, and The National Hotel’s sprawling presence at the corner of High St and Market St poses a significant hindrance to foot traffic – ultimately transforming both High St and the Westend into a desolate ghost town.

In a conciliatory gesture, Mr. Gamba-Mantle expressed the council’s willingness to fund a future artisan market in a secluded venue that is detached and remote from the High Street businesses. However, it is important to note that this may result in reduced foot traffic and patronage for those local businesses. The council’s decision-making process can be perplexing at times.

The council has once again dismantled a longstanding initiative aimed at supporting small businesses within the community.

To witness the pinnacle of the International Street Arts Festival, namely the Westend Weekender, the High Street businesses  implore you to advocate for its inclusion and bolster local business by lobbying your local council.

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