We like to bang on about how great (or rather, OK!) Perth is – but our greatness doesn’t just happen out of nowhere!
With a mission to create thriving, connected and empowered communities, Town Team Movement is all about “doers”.
We’re partnering up with Town Team Movement so we can shine a light on some of the people who help make our communities so unique, and just a few of the excellent initiatives they’re working on.
This week, we’re featuring Andrew Kailis: one of the brains behind bubbling West Perth arts hub, The Pickle District.
Can you tell us about the story behind the name, ‘The Pickle District’?
We started out as the West End Arts Precinct, but after a year we were looking for something more unique. Preserves and Pickle Factories which operated in this area in the early 1900s inspired our name. Back then, residents would line up to buy pickles, while complaining about the vinegar odours wafting from the factory.
The Old Pickle Factory still stands 100 years later, and some visitors swear they still scent slight odours of vinegar in the air. We started out as the West End Arts Precinct, but after a year we were looking for something more unique. My goal is to host an actual pickle festival in the area someday!
What would be the motto or principle of The Pickle District?
Our motto is “making places for art to happen”. Mine is a social connection. When I first started, I didn’t know anyone in the area. It was about connecting with all the creative businesses here and collaborating. I discovered the Town Team movement in 2017, and with the help of Dean and Jimmy, who introduced me to the Council, it grew from there.
And how many people are involved now?
We have about 12 businesses, including both owners and their employees. Not all of them are actively involved, but they all support our cause.
One of your most recent projects was After Dark – can you tell us a little about it?
Certainly, After Dark 4.0 was our latest instalment in a series of art crawl events. For this edition, we explored a previously unloved area located between the freeway, thanks to the CBD revitalisation grant we received. The event featured a combination of light, sound, and installations, which collectively formed an extraordinary urban art trail along the Northern Gateway into Perth.
Our biggest achievement so far would be these After Dark events. It’s a special night that brings art and the community together. Coordinating these events has been fulfilling, and the support we receive, including grants, has been instrumental. Recently the council endorsed The Pickle District Planning Framework which I believe is a wonderful acknowledgment of the work we’ve done.
You seem to be handling a lot on your own – what are some of the challenges of running The Pickle District?
I do much of the administration work myself and receive incredible help from our committee and support from my wife, local businesses and friends from this light industrial strip of West Perth. Attracting the right businesses and landowners to the area is our current challenge.
What’s your strategy to keep the Town Team active and vibrant?
It was slow at the beginning, but patience is key. Building friendships within the team has also been helpful. I am focused on curating the area, transforming blank areas into beautiful spaces and bringing people together through art and events.
Want to get involved and become a doer in your own community? Head to the Town Team Movement website to learn more.