Art on Foot – by Jason Harris

Jason Harris recently went on assignment for Colour Box Studio to find out more about ON FOOT – an art crawl and guided tour of Footscray’s creative spaces on 1 June 2013…

As we wait with baited breath for the upcoming art crawl appropriately titled On Foot happening this Saturday, I sat down to drink some tea with arts manager and tour host of the event Chantal Wynter. We spoke about the art crawl, the arts community in Footscray and also the probability of being chased down the street if we were to run out of the cafe without paying.

Chantal has been involved in the visual arts for the last ten years and is not only in arts management but is an artist herself. She’s currently undertaking her masters degree in arts management at RMIT and says that the event is a good opportunity for the practical application of her study.

Prior to managing the On Foot event, Chantal was apart of the Trocadero Artspace committee. She mentions that there had been talk among the local creative spaces in Footscray for a while regarding an art crawl.

As with most creative endeavors there are more often than not, obstacles with funding. Surprisingly funding for the event ran quite smoothly. The Maribyrnong City Council was approached directly and after being seduced with the proposal, fell in love with the idea and approved funding for the project. Chantal says the major obstacle they faced in getting the art crawl up and running was actually trying to get everyone together! It was hard to schedule a time when everyone from the creative spaces were all able to meet and discuss the event.

So why Footscray for an art crawl? One of the main reasons is the number of diverse artspaces and their close proximity to one another. Chantal is also a resident of Footscray and has great insight into the local arts community through her active participation within it.

As for the future of the art crawls, Chantal would love for it to be an annual event, though she comments that “…I don’t want it to turn into something that is sort of ho hum and we just do it every year…” so it’s important that the level of enthusiasm, energy and support is there for it to be a regularly occurring event. So get out your pom poms and bring it on people!

When asked on her opinion on the future of art spaces and creative hubs in Footscray, Chantal thinks it boils down to sustainability. Footscray is an inner city suburb that has an expanding population and is under rapid development. These factors contribute to rising costs especially when it comes to the price of rent. This may affect an artspace’s ability to remain active. The costs of running creative spaces is an issue as a majority of these spaces are volunteer and artist run, so they rely on funding to keep the doors open. If costs are high and funding isn’t secured, it is more than likely a space will either have to relocate to an outer suburb or shut down entirely.

But before we start running out into the street, dramatically bellowing at the sky with a raised fist, Chantal says that hopefully these kind of issues won’t be too much of a hinderance to the Footscray arts community for very long. Another encouraging thing to note is the presence of established arts spaces and events here in Footscray such as the Footscray Community Arts Centre and the Big West Festival.

Chantal comments that “The arts are important, because I think people become, not complacent, but when you’re explaining to people who aren’t in the arts about why the arts is important, I think we need to do a bit more of that education. That it actually helps society as a whole”. People need to be aware that the arts are more than just the artist creating masterpieces in a studio, it’s something that actively engages with the community as a whole and on multiple levels.

So in the words of sultry songstress Nancy Sinatra, or to a lesser more excruciating extent, Jessica Simpson, these boots were made for walking! So get your walking boots ready my friends and join me and tour host Chantal this Saturday for the On Foot art crawl.

If you haven’t done so yet, visit the On Foot site and make your free RSVP for the art walk. Show your support for your local arts community and of course our very own Colour Box Studio!

For more details: Colour Box Studio’s ON FOOT program.

More about ON FOOT: click here.