Having travelled all around the world, photographer Dan Bennett has returned to Adelaide to establish a multi-disciplinary gallery and studio space to help Adelaide’s arts scene grow.
Introducing multi-disciplinary arts space Fokus Creatives
Dan Bennett says he’s traveled to Singapore, Cambodia and Europe.
For CityMag, in the time of COVID-19, when trips to the cinema seem like wild adventures, hearing of Dan’s experience has us feeling all kinds of nostalgic.
But Dan says he’s happy to have now settled down in Adelaide to embark on a new adventure – multi-use photography and creative work space, Fokus Creatives, which he hopes will help to propel the work of the city’s creative community.
Fokus Creatives was originally slated to launch on 27 March this year, but due to the global buzz-killing pandemic, the party was pushed back.
Deejays were booked as part of the festivities, and Aboriginal artist Audrey Brumby was scheduled to paint live on the night. Dan hoped the party would cultivate word-of-mouth momentum around his new business.
But, in following the federal and state government orders issued for non-essential businesses to close, Dan scrapped the party and did the softest launch ever. It was virtually nonexistent, he says.
“Losing that was a major stumble, but we’ll survive and struggle on,” Dan says.
“Health has to come first. That’s all there is to it.”
Dan conceptualised Fokus Creatives a long time before he signed the three-year lease on the Grenfell Street space – a space with an Andy Warhol Factory feel, with exposed concrete floors and grimy city views.
He knew he wanted to establish a studio for himself as a commercial photographer, but also allow room for his friends within the creative industries who had told him they needed more places to showcase their work.
The Fokus Studios floorpan accommodates both of these needs, including an office for Dan and a shared communal space that includes a camera studio space for hire and two hot desks for freelancers.
A shiny new coffee machine and a set of blenders also sit behind a luxurious couch set up, ready for pow-wows and breaks.
Fokus Creatives also operates as a quasi-gallery space, with walls available for hire that will change bi-monthly.
Dan says he’s also in talks with second-hand clothing operator Laura Vogt from Sustainable Clothing Co. to set up a rack of vintage threads.
Building the space was a two-month process, with Dan and his dad gutting the interior, ripping out “horrible old” carpets and cubicles, and establishing its current vibe through stacks of “plant babies,” vintage furniture and books.
“I consider myself kind of handy,” Dan explains.
“I work festival and events occasionally, and during the build of the festival I’ll work for the site crew driving forklifts, and during the run, I’ll often have the opportunity take photographs.”
He spent hours researching gallery-quality paint to use on the walls – “it has to do dead flat, no reflections,” Dan says – and plotting how to accommodate as many photographers as possible in the studio.
The camera studio includes pro-photo lighting equipment, modifiers, various backdrops and remotes for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras. It costs between $55—$70 per hour.
Freelancer hot desks are available for $30 per hour (with a three-hour minimum commitment), which includes an ergonomic chair and desk, plus access to the espresso machine, WiFi and lounge area.
Fokus Creatives’ official launch is now scheduled for Friday, 24 July, but this is not set in stone.
“I want to party and not be spaced 1.5 metres,” he says. “We’ll launch when the restrictions totally drop.”
Having opened the doors in March, during the height of COVID physical distancing, Dan’s first few months of trade has not been easy.
But the photographer and venue owner says the long-term goal for Fokus Creatives is to “just keep going” and he won’t be deterred by financial setbacks.
“I feel excited about the future,” he says, smiling.
“In the time I was travelling – and every time I’d come back to Adelaide – it had changed in a positive way.
“It’s nice to feel like I can leave an impact like that as well.”
Fokus Creatives is located at Level 5, 20 Grenfell Street, and is open from 9am ’til 5pm Monday to Friday by appointment.