04/04/2006 - 22:00

Committee for Perth aims to foster culture, creativity

04/04/2006 - 22:00

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After nearly 18 months of formative work, a group of local business people has launched a committee that is designed to foster the cultural, creative and economic development of Perth.

Committee for Perth aims to foster culture, creativity

After nearly 18 months of formative work, a group of local business people has launched a committee that is designed to foster the cultural, creative and economic development of Perth.

The driving force behind The Committee for Perth has been Freehills managing partner John Atkins, who was inspired by the success of an equivalent group in Melbourne, where he lived for four years.

Like-minded people at Ernst & Young, including manager Angus Walker and partner Gary Smith, have also been developing the concept, which has attracted notable support.

BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Alinta have provided seed funding, Wesfarmers has provided assistance, University of WA Business School prepared a strategic plan and the state govern-ment has expressed support.

The establishment of The Committee for Perth builds on work being undertaken by FORM, the peak professional association for artists and craftspeople, which is also seeking to promote the creative and cultural development of Perth.

FORM’s Creative Capital series, presented in partnership with the Rio Tinto WA Future Fund, aims to stimulate thinking and engage in a dialogue on the way ahead for Perth.   

Mr Atkins said he had been working closely with FORM’s executive director Linda Dorrington and believed the two groups complemented each other.

“I think we are totally aligned,” Mr Atkins said.

The Committee for Perth’s first major workshop, being held this week, will feature UK author Charles Landry, best known for his book The Creative City, who has been brought to Perth by FORM.

Mr Atkins said the Committee for Perth aimed to initiate and pursue selected projects, in a similar manner to The Committee for Melbourne.

The latter group takes credit for initiating the Docklands development and the privatisation of Melbourne airport and facilitating the City Link tollway and the Old Treasury refurbishment.

The Committee for Melbourne’s current initiatives include facilitating an integrated transport system addressing the issue of congestion, facilitating growth of the biotech industry, and fostering development of the city’s future leaders.

Mr Atkins said he was very encouraged by the support offered in Perth.

“Unanimously people have said this could make a difference,” he said.

About 90 business people attended a launch event last month, where Alinta chairman Tony Howarth was the keynote speaker, and the participants were immediately put to work in committees developing ideas.

“They loved it; the energy in the room was fantastic,” Mr Atkins said.

Next steps for the Committee for Perth would include hiring an executive officer, establishing a board, and identifying specific projects.

Mr Atkins emphasised that the committee would have a lean structure, with most funding and resources devoted to agreed projects.

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