THE Fly by Night Musician’s Club has been told it must move out of Victoria Hall by the end of August.
Fremantle council confirmed this week it would not renew the non-profit club’s lease on the hall because of its ballooning rent debt, which currently stands at $70,000.
Mayor Brad Pettitt said it was a difficult decision because of the Fly’s role in promoting the local music scene for more than 30 years, but even with council help to try rejigging its business model the numbers didn’t stack up.
“Since the National Trust decided not to renew the Fly’s lease on the old Drill Hall in 2014, the City of Fremantle has gone out of its way to help the Fly survive, including offering half-price rent on Victoria Hall, spending more than $20,000 to improve the acoustics of the hall and giving them a $20,000 cash grant,” Dr Pettitt said.
The council says it’s been working with the Fly to look for venues around town where it could stage shows including the Navy Club, South Freo Football Club and the town hall.
But club stalwart Steve Tallis posted on social media that the navy and football clubs wouldn’t let the Fly take over the bar, making them unviable as venues.
Mr Tallis organises the weekly Gaslight Club at the Fly, providing one of the few opportunities in town where up-and-comers can test their material in front an audience, and described the council’s decision as “gutless”.
He’s also looking for a new venue to keep Gaslight going.
Fly chair Steve Wells said the board would meet later this month to organise an exit strategy.
“It will be a shame if we need to leave Fremantle after all this time but that is one of the options our board is currently exploring. We are committed to the Fly continuing as a not-for-profit promoter of live independent music.”
Mr Wells said the Fly was hoping to work with the state government and music industry body WA Music to manage astatewide artistic development program. “We know we need to change the business model if the Fly is to continue and we are confident that the support of government, WAM and even philanthropists will help the Fly to achieve its full potential.”
by STEVE GRANT