Despite being a hub of cultural institutions, with destinations such as the Film and Television Institute, the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art, The Art Gallery of Western Australia, the Blue Room Theatre, the State Theatre Centre, the Perth Cultural Centre remained merely a collection of stark, uninviting buildings with no outdoor public activity for years. Outside building walls, the area’s brutalist architecture and empty spaces were largely avoided by the public. In 2009, Perth’s Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority (MRA) began a project to turn the centre into a multi-use, public space destination. The MRA, along with PPS and other stakeholders, spearheaded a Placemaking initiative to transform this public space, relying largely on phased, Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper strategies.
Early steps were simple, such as adding shade structures and seating to make the space more comfortable, installing a large screen on which to project movies and digital art, and providing free WiFi. Soon, excitement about the changing space grew, attracting greater community support and involvement. With the added help, the MRA was able to turn an abandoned water feature into a native wetland area, build a play space, and convert a rooftop parking lot into a community garden. These physical improvements were paired with a variety of programs including movie screenings and concerts. The MRA also encouraged the institutions to take part in the project by expanding their programs outdoors. The result was stimulating exhibitions and activities, including an outdoor art series by The Perth Institute of Contemporary Art. Through this experience, the institutions came to realize the benefits of having this public venue, especially in helping grow their audience and create a more accessible relationship with the community.
The centre continues to thrive as an important gathering place in the city. It has come to gain wide recognition and serve as the host of the Perth International Arts Festival and the Fringe World Festival. From small beginnings, this community-led LQC strategy has shown enormous success in revitalizing its public space and partnering communities with cultural and educational institutions.
*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.
On April 22nd, Milwaukee was announced as one of the six 2015 Heart of the Community cities. Over the next six months, the local project team and PPS used “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” (LQC) Placemaking principles to ensure that the The Spot 4MKE continued to be a collaborative, inclusive, and community-led project.