The Fly by Night Musicians’ Club has been handed the keys to Victoria Hall, but still faces significant challenges to make its new home work.
Fremantle council’s strategic and general services committee voted Wednesday to give the Fly a one-year lease of the High Street building with an option to renew for a further year.
Fly manager John Reid sent the Herald an ebullient text after the decision, crowing it had been a unanimous vote, but concedes there are still hurdles to overcome.
The not-for-profit’s liquor licence is tied to the Parry Street drill hall it leases from the National Trust until March 11, and it’s been a vital revenue stream.
Mr Reid hopes there’ll be no hiccup transferring the licence as it’s just a move around the corner, but last year the notoriously tough liquor licensing authority rejected a bid from Clancy’s to temporarily transfer its licence to Victoria Hall while the Cantonment Street pub underwent renovation.
Matters are complicated further by the emergence of Sunset Events, which is moving into the drill hall to operate a club venue and will no doubt want to sell grog.
It’s possible the Fly and Sunset could end up in a race to secure the licence currently tied to Parry Street, with the runner-up left with an alcohol-free venue.
“It’s a challenge which I haven’t got to yet,” Mr Reid admitted to the Herald. “But the Fly is not about selling booze. Yes, it’s sustained us through 28 years at the drill hall, but Vic Hall is a smaller venue, so we have to change our whole business model, and that’s going to take 12 months to develop once we get in the building.”
When a move to Vic Hall was first suggested last year by mayor Brad Pettitt, Mr Reid was concerned it was too close to the looming Sunset behemoth and the Fly would struggle financially.
But he’s now more confident the pair can co-exist and has even flagged hiring the drill hall for big gigs to generate cash that will ultimately support the emerging artists he hopes to focus on.
Sunset boss David Chitty agrees, saying Sunset’s focus on high-profile Australian and international artists means the two won’t clash.
“Absolutely we can co-exist, and with two venues operating, the local music industry gets stronger—that’s what has happened in the eastern states,” Mr Chitty told the Herald.
by STEVE GRANT