Bookseller Terri-ann White surveys the publishing scene in Perth and Fremantle, for several decades now torn by a battle for funds but recently showing encouraging signs of optimistic development.
Since 1975 and the establishment of the Fremantle Arts Centre Press, the writing community of Perth has benefited enormously from the focus and support it has offered. Whether individual writers have been published by it or not, in the most isolated city in the world the possibilities have been opened up. The Press has clearly been responsible, as a developmental publisher, for encouraging and promoting creative writing, biography, and regional history writing in WA, and for opening up resources and opportunities for writers to work closely with good editors, good advice, and plenty of time to learn and hone work into a publishable form.
Set up with public money from local government as well as the state and federal arts funding bodies, the genesis of the Press has been well documented as an exemplary publishing venture. It has moved from being a regional press to a regional-based press, still only publishing works by Western Australian writers as policy, but that means much more than protectionism, fifteen years on. It is an investment in an identifiable community. Under the intelligent direction of its team (including Ian Templeman as founder, Clive Newman as administrator, Ray Coffey and Wendy Jenkins as editors, and Susan Eve Ellvey as designer) the Press has had big successes and many strong moves forward.