SUNSET EVENTS boss David Chitty says the company’s not out to damage the Fly by Night, but hasn’t ruled out a solo bid for the old drill hall if a joint proposal is rebuffed.
“We’d explore that option,” Mr Chitty conceded to the Herald.
He says Sunset’s approach to the club has been painted in sinister overtones, but he’s adamant it was made with the best of intensions.
“The key point from our perspective is if we didn’t want to work with or help the Fly at all we would have not contacted them with the proposal … and [instead] submitted an EOI application directly to the Trust,” Mr Chitty told the Herald.
“We were told it’s in trouble and we thought there was an opportunity for us to help them, and at the same time to generate a return for us.”
He says mayor Brad Pettitt gave him the idea.
“I rang Brad and said I was looking for a venue ‘and did you know of any venue that the council is looking at putting out’ and he said ‘no’ but then mentioned that the Fly’s lease was coming up and he didn’t know where the Fly is at.”
Mr Chitty met with Fly treasurer Greg Leaver but denies he was given inside information about the club’s finances, other than to be told there were “looming pressures”.
The Fly didn’t respond to him after its May board meeting (Mr Leaver was away but let it know about the approach) so Mr Chitty says he asked Dr Pettitt to facilitate a meeting between the two organisations because of the looming EOI.
He believes Sunset’s offer is generous: in exchange for taking over the lease at commercial rates and getting access to the all-important liquor licence, Sunset is offering the club the use of the smaller Fly Trap free of charge and the main hall for larger community events.
Sunset will also pay for all fit-out and relocation costs if the Fly accepts a move to the Evan Davies building on the strip—formerly home to Kulcha—and he says he has secured Dr Pettitt’s backing for that venue to be offered at reduced rent.
While reduced rent requires council approval, Dr Pettitt has indicated he’s sure it will be forthcoming if it ensures the Fly’s future in Fremantle.
On his blog this week the mayor indicated the council might still offer one of its properties at a discounted rate if the Fly is unable to remain at Parry Street.
“…I believe we need to make sure the Fly can continue as seamlessly as possible in Fremantle and I guess this is where the council can assist as we own a range of properties that we could lease to the Fly…
“The old Kulcha site is one that has already been raised.”
Dr Pettitt says he’s not sure Sunset and the Fly have enough in common for the plan to work, but says “surprising partnerships” are worth exploring.
Mr Chitty says he has noticed the Fly’s shows getting fewer and smaller and reckons what it’s currently offering will fill Kulcha’s old site well. Meanwhile, his company can pack the hall out every week, a boon to the struggling local economy.
by STEVE GRANT