A lack of opportunities in Perth is forcing some young artists to reluctantly move interstate.
They argue the lack of support from local and state governments for the arts puts Perth at risk of becoming dull compared to other states with more vibrant art scenes.
Micca Young is a Perth-based surrealist artist who moved to Melbourne in April 2022.
Young said there were relatively few art exhibitions and events in Perth due to the small population.
“I feel like I haven’t really met anyone in Perth doing surrealism or that style of art,” she said.
“I get to Melbourne and there’s 20 other surrealist artists who are all amazing but it’s almost normal to come across a really good painter in Melbourne.”
I see it amongst our generation. I see things happening but it just hasn’t happened yet. So that’s why I’m in Melbourne but I have thoughts of coming back.Micca Young
Young hopes to return to Perth eventually and open a gallery for surrealist work as a way of inspiring and growing the art community in her home city.
Jasmine Pornea, 18, who studies digital design at Edith Cowan University, anticipates she will need to move away after she graduates.
“Perth is a very limiting place for the creative field,” Pornea said.
“I think the most opportunity you’ll get is over east but ideally, I’d like to find a job here.”
University of Western Australia fine arts discipline chair Ionat Zurr said many students had to look beyond WA for jobs.
Zurr doesn’t believe there are enough opportunities in WA to support the number of students who graduate from university.
“There is a lack of support, always,” she said.
She’s noticed a decline in artist-run initiatives since the 90s due to limited space and expensive real estate.
“I wish there was more help from the government or local community to create those kinds of places.”
Fremantle-based artist and full-time economics consultant Atle Edgar said Perth had the potential to be as culturally vibrant as cities over east.
The Perth art scene is interesting. The reason why people hate it is also why it’s cool.Atle Edgar
“It’s a really good space to test ideas and start your creative journey then take it elsewhere,” he said.
“The problem is, you just want people to bring it back sooner or later so that there’s a growing number of artistic people here.”
Perth has found itself in a limbo-like state as supply for artistic and creative experiences doesn’t meet the community’s growing demand.
WA’s characteristically relaxed lifestyle combined with the beautiful natural environment are the main reasons why Perth residents are more positive about living in the state, according to the 2021 Perth Perception Survey.
A 2021 report published by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre found attendance rates at cultural events are higher in WA than the national average.
Researchers said despite being enthusiastic consumers of the arts and culture, WA’s creative economy continued to lag behind the rest of Australia.
Edgar believes more funding for the sector is essential.
“You need enough stuff to be happening here. You need enough people, which means you need to have enough spending money on arts here that you reach the influx point where it supports itself and turns into something big,” Edgar said.
“When that happens, it’ll be really fucking cool.”