There have been many discussions over a long period of time on how to renew Queen Street, but we still seem to be waiting for the answer. Many things have been suggested over the years, but could art be the answer?
I recently spoke with Liz Thorn from Elizabeth’s Crystal Garden who opened The Happiness Cottage, a venue bringing fresh ideas and opportunities to Queen Street. I also spoke to local artist Kerrie Abello who gave me an insight into how art can bring more people to Queen Street and help businesses.
1. A new space for businesses
The Happiness Cottage behind the Old Post Office building at 261 Queen Street opened on August 5th last year. According to Liz ‘Our main mission is to allow a better connection between the public and local business communities’.
This is a space to conduct workshops, courses and pop up shops at an affordable price. Liz added ‘Business Networking is encouraged through our Monthly Courtyard Market. Other social activities such as ‘Chat & Chills’, ‘Kids Club’ & ‘ART Hub’ are planned for the future’.
Often micro and small businesses have few options other than building their business from home. One of the main reasons Liz opened the Happiness Cottage was to give opportunity to others. ‘It’s a starting point for people with new ideas to enter the business arena. Bringing more people into our immediate business space I.e. the Courtyard. Creating our own micro business community’
2. An art space in the middle of Queen Street
Another interesting addition to Queen Street was Dragonfly Community Gallery at Shop 22, City Arcade 156 Queen Street. This was a part of The Meditation Space and managed by Kerri, who also works within The Happiness Cottage. Dragonfly held several successful exhibitions showcasing the works of local artists, also giving them a chance to sell their works.
Local artists currently have few options to display and sell their work. While we have wonderful exhibitions at Campbelltown Arts Centre, there is very little scope for local art.
Pre COVID, Dragonfly Community Gallery became a very popular art venue. Unfortunately, with the flow on effects of the lock down and necessary safe distancing rules The Meditation Space has reduced to one venue, sadly we lost our main street art gallery.
Liz believes The Happiness Cottage has great potential for Queen Street, as did Dragonfly Community Gallery. ‘Building community spirit, allowing people to meet others in a relaxed and comfortable venue at affordable prices, encouraging and supporting newcomers commencing a business venture, bringing extra business and customers into the Campbelltown area’. Kerrie also added ‘I see a lot of opportunities with businesses being able to have exhibitions and showcases of art and pop up shops. It gives more depth and authenticity to the Main Street, people might actually want to come to Queen Street again’.
3. An improved Queen Street
Kerrie sees art as a way to improve Queen Street. ‘The Main Street and Campbelltown as a city is very drab, the buildings lack colour and life. Art can bring that to Campbelltown and having spaces being able to showcase art, did and hopefully again can promote other business to art up their spaces or give people opportunities to show their work. Create a more inviting Main Street to attract more business’.
4. Can art benefit businesses?
I asked Liz and Kerrie can local businesses benefit from local artists? Liz believes definitely! ‘By using their creativity & passion for art to make a local business more attractive, enticing more customers to interact with that company’. Kerrie was even more enthusiastic about it. ‘Local businesses could benefit from artists by showcasing
their work within their workplaces. Artwork can affect the mood and feeling within a work environment – it can motivate, inspire but also calm and relax. It can evoke thoughts and productivity. Art can also draw customers in, creating a win/win situation for everyone’.
There is certainly an opportunity for local businesses to spruce up their spaces with art, and perhaps even sell art on a commission basis. Kerrie pointed out ‘There are many local businesses lacking creative flair and inviting spaces that would benefit greatly from having artwork in their space’.
Macarthur is home to many talented people. We do celebrate many of those, but perhaps it is time we support our local artists more. We have some local business people giving opportunities to artists and new businesses. Perhaps the Reimagine Campbelltown project should include an art precinct, similar to ones that have been very successful in other areas.
We also have a definite need for an affordable space for small businesses to help them grow, perhaps The Happiness Cottage and Dragonfly Community Gallery are the first of these in Campbelltown.
Rolf Fuchs is a Success Coach at Fox Coaching and a past Director at Campbelltown Chamber of Commerce. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0404 840 506.