Saving a city’s mojo

NORTH FREO’S historic live-music venue Mojos Bar was almost sent to the wall after a single noise complaint resulted in a big spend on soundproofing.

Mojos managing director Andrew Ryan says without any legal protections for entertainment precincts, the community stands to lose vibrancy and the business that comes with it.

“Mojos Bar has been a live music venue … since at least 1972. Ever since then it’s been a site of subculture, counterculture and live music,” Mr Ryan said.

In 2018 Mojos received a letter of complaint from a neighbouring resident who had moved in two years prior.

• Trying to keep quiet almost sent Mojos to the wall.

Quieter

“He contacted me directly and advised me what he wanted … he wanted us to be quieter than we were being,” Mr Ryan told the Herald.

“We immediately took [sound] measurements from inside his house … we worked out the levels we needed for him to be happy.”

While the measurements were within the legal limits, Mr Ryan said it was important to invest in future-proofing the venue as nearby sites are set for residential infill.

“We decided to spend our own money and soundproof the venue so that stakeholders in the area were able to be pleased.”

Mr Ryan said no lawful protections exist for entertainment venues when homes are built nearby, with the onus for soundproofing lying with the entertainment venue alone.

Music

“Mojos could have gone under … I think there would’ve been a lot of egg on the face of those who are said to support independent live music,” he said.

“It was a major challenge and to date there have been no public funds available to us.”

Last year the WA government drafted a plan to protect venues in the Northbridge entertainment precinct by putting the onus of soundproofing on the “agent of change” – either a new residence being built, or a new venue opening.

Victoria brought in similar rules after noise complaints saw the end of some iconic live music venues.

Under the draft rules a new housing development would have to satisfy the council they’d installed enough soundproofing to keep noise tolerable, and there’d be a requirement for the title to inform a prospective buyer that they’re moving into an entertainment precinct and there’ll be noise.

Mr Ryan would like to see those rules cover other entertainment precincts too.

“For [Mojos Bar] to remain good, it needs to comply with expectations of a musician, a ticket-paying customer.

“So rather than the legislation being what’s instructing volume, we have an interest in bands and punters and their happiness.

“Vibrance is required – and investment and legislation need to protect vibrance if Perth is to have any visible retail culture remaining as we move forward.”

by SEAN HILL

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