Fly fights rent hike

• Jane Davidson, John Reid, Simone McGurk and Georgia Wesley. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

• Jane Davidson, John Reid, Simone McGurk and Georgia Wesley. Photo by Jeremy Dixon

The Fly By Night Musicians’ Club fears it’s about to be hit with a crippling rent hike from its landlord, the National Trust.

In February last year the iconic Parry Street club’s rent rose from $23,500 to $35,000. Now, it faces going up again to $50,000—more than doubling the non-profit club’s rent in 18 months.

General manager John Reid says such a hike is “unacceptable” and the club is unlikely to be able to pay it, especially given its annual $23,000 in funding from the WA arts department just ended.

Despite an email from Trust property management coordinator Dan Klofverskjold suggesting taking the “new rent to…$50,000,” Trust chief Tom Perrigo says there are no plans to increase the rent “at this stage”.

He says Mr Reid is simply trying to paint him as the villain because the Fly is struggling to pay its bills.

“John doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” he says. “John needs to look in the mirror and stop blaming everybody else.

“The Fly has shown it hasn’t the capacity to be financially stable.”

The property, owned by the WA government and managed by the Trust, also attracts an annual $8000 council rates bill. “We are not in dire straits, but we have a lot of work to do,” Mr Reid says.

“Basically we will have to bring a lot more artists to WA. We are going to need a lot of support from the community.”

He implies the club may have to move to survive. The club is housed in the old military drill hall—with its landmark curved roof—next to the rear of the historic police station. “If the Fly By Night wasn’t in the old drill hall who would be?” Mr Reid asks. “I honestly don’t think the Trust knows what we do.”

Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says the Barnett government should not have cut the Fly’s funding.

“It’s just one of the ugly ramifications of the Barnett government’s budget cuts,” she says. “A vibrant arts community doesn’t just happen, it needs to be supported.”

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