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DEVILLES IS GONE, THE BAKERY IS DONE, AND FLY BY NIGHT
WAS RECEIVING LAST RITES WHEN IT WAS SAVED AT THE LAST
MINUTE. PERTH MUSIC PUNTERS ARE GETTING FED UP, BUT IS
THAT ANGER WELL-FOUNDED? IS THE STATE OF PERTH’S LIVE
MUSIC VENUES REALLY AS DIRE AS IT SEEMS?
I’d say the live-music
venue situation in Perth
could best be described
The losses of The Bakery,
Devilles and the Fly By Night club have been a significant
blow to an already limp music landscape. Granted,
the Fly By has found a new home, but the others?
The Bakery’s absence will be felt all over Perth, as it
generated and facilitated a world of culture in this city,
and Devilles was perfect and weird! I can testify to many
good nights and many eye-opening experiences at these
places. There is nothing in the works to replace these
spaces, and the outlook is pretty bleak.
Each of these closed (or soon-to-be closed) venues
has met its fate by a different cause, so it’s hard to
point the finger at just one catalyst. However, there
are common threats and hindrances, and these have
come to the fore now everyone’s in a state of panic
about the future. It’s exposed a massive hole in the next
generation of venues.
The barriers to entry into opening up a live-
music venue are massive, with endless red tape and
a significant amount of capital required. There’s also
little in place to support the ones that are fighting to
remain open, noise complaints being an obvious threat.
As a booker of a stalwart Fremantle live-music venue,
we’re facing the prospect of an 11:30pm curfew for our
bands, as the neighbours (not even close ones, mind
you) don’t seem to like the noise. Now, we’re known for
being a highly accessible, family-orientated venue, not
to mention we’ve had bands playing for 30 years! It’s
really shameful that there are no protections on venues,
especially ones that are fostering positive and healthy
If Perth wants to be considered a sophisticated city
it needs to be willing to make noise after 11:30pm,
and it needs to provide outlets for its artists. Conversely,
with nowhere for people to properly display their art, or
express themselves artistically, you’ll be seeing a lot more
illegal activity, such as graffiti and excessive house parties.
‘Dire’ is an alarmist word
and I feel it’s inappropriate
to pit two opinions
against each other on
this issue. It was raised
as a call to action and,
in my experience, the
independent art and
music scenes in Perth
are, by necessity and
and supportive. I can’t
see a shortage of venues changing
that operating principle of the arts community; rather it may
serve to further galvanise it.
There is no shortage of passion, talent and commitment
to developing music and arts culture in this city. The
concern is that it is becoming more and more difficult
for venue owners, promoters and artists to prosper or, in
reality, break even.
For venues, commercial success – or even just to
achieve viability – requires ingenuity and a ‘for the greater
good’ attitude. Internal subsidisation is common – things
like extending beer gardens to allow more covers so that
a band room at a third of its capacity doesn’t cripple a venue,
or serving cheap cocktails to clubbers after 11pm in order
to be able to continue to have live, original music played
in a venue at all.
If the state government were to offer a live-music
subsidy to all venues that host live original music, those
venues that already make it work without being subsidised
would, I suspect, use the funds to further develop
opportunities for artists, like advertising their venues’
live music line-ups.
Another piece of the puzzle is audience building. You
talk about punters, I think of punters as being comparatively
expensive to reach, and as being the mass market. I hate to
think of the number of times I’ve sat on the floor in front of
a mind-blowingly talented local act, in a sea of 20 familiar faces.
Larger scale arts and music programs have huge
marketing budgets that reach from Darch to Rockingham
and beyond, which is fabulous and makes our city great. But
every night, in a handful of central suburbs, Perth people
are making great noise and beautiful moments, and they’re
young, old and in every way diverse and independent voices.
If support isn’t forthcoming for our grassroots music
and arts communities, we will be in a position where
diversity is a privilege, the impetus to create will be diluted
and without an avenue of expression, and we may just find
ourselves driving into a cultural cul-de-sac .
Renee Pole, Development
Manager – Music, at RTRFM.
words Sophie Raynor photography Hannah Lawrance and Adam Borrello
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