National Trust decision means new Freo home potentially needed for The Fly.

This morning the National Trust announced it would enter into lease negotiations for the Artillery Drill Hall with Sunset Events. The Fly by Night Musicians Club have been given 6 months notice.

This decision by the Trust Board will be no doubt a controversial decision and really hard on the good people at the Fly, who I suspect will be gutted.

But once the dust settles it could be a cloud with silver lining.

Sunset will no doubt do a great job of running the Drill Hall as a music venue and their connections with east coast venues and touring companies means we will see more touring acts in central Fremantle as a result.

A really important next step will be working with the Fly by Night Musicians Club to get them as seamlessly as possible into another venue in Fremantle. Whether it be Victoria Hall, the former Kulcha venue or something else – it is essential that this much loved and iconic music institution continues to thrive in Fremantle.

In my more optimistic moments I can imagine that an upside consequence of this hard period is that central Fremantle will have more live music than ever before with the newly located Fly by Night Musicians Club and Sunset Event’s two venues, in addition to great existing venues like Clancy’s, Xwray and Odd fellows

Fremantle could once again become the centre of original live music in Perth in a way we haven’t seen since the early 1990s when most the West End pubs were live music venues.

Let’s hope that’s how this all lands (media statement by Trust below).



New lease secures Artillery Drill Hall future

The Council of the National Trust of Australia (WA) has resolved to enter into lease negotiations with Sunset Events following the closure of Expressions of Interest in the Artillery Drill Hall in Fremantle and presentations.

National Trust Chairman, John Cowdell said the decision was the only way to ensure the Artillery Drill Hall would continue as a live performance and cultural venue available to local community groups which currently utilise the Hall.

“The ongoing heritage, social and community values of the Artillery Drill Hall including a commitment to investment in capital works and upgrades to protect the heritage of the building are priorities of the National Trust,” Mr Cowdell said.

“Sunset Events is an established music promoter with a proven track record for innovative and quality events which has also undertaken to invest in the conservation of the Artillery Drill Hall which is a registered State Heritage place,” he said.

“Sunset Events has offered significant capital expenditure on heritage conservation and refurbishment at the commencement of the new lease.

“The Trust also looked to a model that would involve a far greater utilisation of all areas of the building, offering a greater range of benefits to arts related groups, as well as an imaginative use of bar and coffee shop facilities which would be open to the public.

Mr Cowdell confirmed the National Trust had been concerned about the continued sustainability of the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club at the Artillery Drill Hall and welcomed Sunset Events offer to provide the Club with priority community bookings at the live venue.

“There is a viable future for the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club under Sunset Events commitment and through Mayor Pettitt’s offer of two alternate venues with the assistance of the City of Fremantle,” Mr Cowdell said.

“The National Trust had granted the Fly by Night Musicians’ Club a six month extension of its current lease to honour existing contracts and allow the Club to make appropriate re-location arrangements.

The National Trust has spent in excess of $750,000 on heritage conservation of the Artillery Drill Hall since it assumed responsibility for the State Heritage registered place a decade ago.

“The National Trust looks forward to the additional investment in the Artillery Drill Hall to secure the future of the building as a premier live performance venue in Fremantle,” Mr Cowdell said.

For more information please contact National Trust Communication Officer Gina Pickering on P 9321 6088 or M 0408 584 404.

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
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10 Responses to National Trust decision means new Freo home potentially needed for The Fly.

  1. John Reed says:

    I was one of the people who put a huge amount of work into establishing the Fly. It started with a meeting in lucky ocean ‘s lounge room, and micko o’byrne (of horse and cart fame that I filmed in 1982) ran with it and did the politics. It was totally unique music venue not dependent on alcohol sales. Community sustainability was at the heart of its remit. It was the first venue to go non smoking against the status quo at the time. It’s not just about putting on big shows. This wonderful community resource has been sold down the river to commercial eastern states interests. A lot of people in Fremantle put their shoulders to the wheel to create this venue. And now it’s just been handed over. Like taking candy from a baby. Morons. John Reed (not the current John Reid, who has been treated very badly here). I want to know more about this outrage, who has made this decision and why.

  2. Sharon McDonald says:

    The Fly By Night club is a Fremantle icon as one with the Artillery Drill Hall which was discovered by the Original Fly By Night Committee dusted off saved, restored and loved by all of the WA Community along with the Australian and International music community.

    The venue running as the Fly By Night Club brings Hundreds of people and revenue to Fremantle every week and has done for 28yrs. Furthermore as a music venue with connections to the touring acts from the rest of Australia and Internationally would continue to bring acts from all the musical genres to the venue.

    I would as one of the original Fly by Night Committee members like to request a meeting with the Mayor plus any of the relevant council staff members and the Fly by Night Community to ask questions we have as to why we have to leave and to answer and set straight the information in the press releases.

    • Sharon

      I agree the Fly has made a great contributin to Freo over the years.

      I would be happy to meet with you but Freo Council wasn’t involved in the decision making around the Drill Hall. It may be better to direct this request to the National Trust and the Fly Board directll if you want these answers

      cheers, Brad

  3. Eric says:

    Well – that is a bummer. Trampling on history and beloved icons for commercial expediency is not cool. I hate returning to WA to find stuff has gone “missing” in this way.

  4. Rose Pinter says:

    As a long term member, past Chair of the Fly Board, Life Member of the Fly and past city councillor of Fremantle I am completely distressed that there is an idea that moving the Fly from its current venue will be regarded as a “silver lining” as the current Mayor suggests. It has taken many years (28) of negotiating the Fly’s place in the community. Established as a not for profit community based musicians organisation it has nurtured music from WA of all genres allowing them to grow, be heard and become established both Nationally and Internationally. This organisation is unique in its charter to support musicians on a not for profit basis allowing all those who aspire to make music their living a possibility. The volunteer and member support of this organisation cannot be matched over its history for its dedication to that purpose.
    It took many years negotiating with the Homeswest and various department of housing to allow a live music venue to exist next to residential areas. With most venues in that situation throughout Perth being required to close down, the Fly established good community relations with its neighbours and surrounding community. To suggest that the Fly can easily up sticks and move to another smaller less functional location is thoughtless and somewhat silly since it is local government compliance that is often the issue for such venues.
    It has taken many years of volunteer labour to establish this extraordinary venue, with little access to capital as a not for profit the stage has been built and rebuilt and built again, seating found, donations made for furnishings, relationships nurtured with providers for materials and labour volunteered to create the unique unmistakable Fly atmosphere that people love so much.
    Those sound engineers who have worked over the years at the Fly have made a beautiful sound, despite the constraints of the venue, which National and International performers return to time and time again. They don’t return for the big bucks, the huge contempory venue they return for The Fly, the atmosphere, the unique sound and feel of that place. This is not something you can put on the back of a truck and move round the corner.
    It beggars belief that this unique and hard fought for cultural heritage is being ditched for the benefit of commercialism.
    Shame on those that think this is a good thing or that it will benefit anything other than a financial greed for commercial enterprise.

    • Rose, no one is questioning that the Fly is a great Freo insitution and the important contribution many have made including yourself but as a former councillor you will be very aware that politics is the art of the possible and as much as we might like to rile against things it rarely gets us the best outcome in the end. I think a future focused, solutions apprach apprach is likely to yield better results. thanks, Brad

  5. John Reed says:

    Brad, couldn’t the Council’s legal people ask the ‘Trust’ some questions about the new tenants and their suitability to run the venue? Have their financials been checked? Are they fit for purpose? How come the City is taking this so meekly as a fete accompli?? Surely the City can have a voice.

  6. John Reed says:

    Note this is a different John Reed. Not the John Reid who runs the Fly By Night Club.

  7. Mark Cain says:

    Bravo to The comments of both the comments of bot John Reed and Sharon McDonald. The Fly is Fremantle institution that has made an enormous contribution to the arts and particularly music, in WA. It distinguished itself as an artist run and regulated organisation and to.see it threatened by an opportunistic corporate raider with a supposed blues and roots agenda that isn’t, sticks in the craw of many of us who have performed there or been part of its history. I also have a niggling feeling the council has sat on its hands here…
    Mark Cain

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