The Fremantle Arts Centre is truly unique. With a long and fascinating history, FAC is housed in a gothic heritage building in Freo’s east end. And right now, it’d normally be alive and buzzing with live gigs, visual art exhibitions and plenty of local punters.

But obviously, that’s not the case right now. With current restrictions leading to events being postponed, FAC wanted to find a way to still connect the local community with artists.

The result is a new podcast, FAC Chats. Hosted by the centre’s Events Coordinator Davey Craddock, the podcast profiles musicians and artists from across the country, giving a behind the scenes peek into the art making process.

ALBY caught up with Davey to talk about the new pod, the impact of COVID-19 on the arts and how the ALBY MADE grant will help.

It’s been a tough few months across the arts community, what’s been the impact at FAC?

Like so many institutions based around public gatherings, the COVID19 crisis has completely disrupted our live music, exhibitions and courses program. We’ve had to reschedule the majority of our concert season and are currently working on how shows of different sizes will be presented in the ‘new world’. It’s a long and slow process but we’re looking forward to re-presenting great musicians from all around the world as soon as possible.

Out of this, you’ve created a new podcast, tell us about it?

The idea behind the podcast initially was to provide a platform for local musicians whose shows were cancelled as a result of COVID19. We had five great local bands whose gigs were cancelled and we wanted to still bring their music and stories to the 1000 or so people who religiously gather to watch them in the FAC Front Garden every Sunday. As the scale of COVID19’s disruption became clearer, the brief for the podcast evolved into also covering the visual artists and the craftspeople we also showcase at the Arts Centre. 

What are you loving about the podcast so far?

The virus and working from home can be quite an isolating experience so I’m particularly enjoying having an excuse to speak at length with other people  – particularly fascinating artists – as often as possible! Having a 30 minute phone chat each week with someone like Tim Rogers or members of the Triffids has been a great tonic at such a strange time. 

Has it been challenging to put together?

I worked as a print journalist for a long time before working in the arts so the interviewing and research side of things was familiar to me but the tech side of things has been a steep learning curve. I’ve got a newfound respect for radio or podcast professionals who can make a sometimes rambling chat sound neat, audible and pithy.

Give us a sneak peek – who are you speaking to and are there any special stories you can let us know about?

Our first three episodes are a great place to start. The first two are music based and profile four local bands whose shows were cancelled as a result of a virus and gives an insight into what independent musicians are doing to maintain their careers and creative output. The second episode is a chat with Graham Lee and Robert McComb – two members of the Triffids who have produced a beautiful new album and show called Truckload of Sky: The Lost Songs of David McComb. This show is coming to FAC in January and is basically the unveiling of ‘lost’ songs which were discovered after legendary WA songwriter David McComb’s death. The current episode is a virtual gallery talk with the City of Fremantle Art Collection curator Andre Lipscombe – it’s a swashbuckling tour through six key works in our collection. There’s talk of shipwrecks, an artists’ throat being slashed by a convict and America’s Cup shenanigans – it’s a great insight into both the Fremantle of old and today.

How will the Alby Arts Grant help you?

The podcast was an entirely unexpected and unfunded project born out of COVID19 so it will literally help us get the project off the ground. Practically, it’s helped us license some local music as a theme tune (by Odette Mercy) and it has also assisted in paying for hosting and marketing fees to ensure that the artists’ work and stories get to as many people as possible.

How concerned are you about the live music and arts scene during this crisis?

While this crisis has hit the live music and arts industries particularly hard, this industry is full of extremely resourceful, creative and laterally-thinking people. As we’ve seen already, the arts industry is great at utilising new technologies and getting great work in front of people no matter what. The comeback will likely be slow, strange and painful but I’ve got no doubt that this industry will keep finding ways to get art and music in front of people while working out how to support the livelihoods of the people that make it.

You can check out FAC Chats here or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts.