The future of popular Fremantle music venue the Fly by Night Musicians Club is under a cloud after the building’s landlord called for expressions of interest in taking over the lease.
Since 1986, the not-for-profit club has held on average more than 100 events per year at the heritage-listed former artillery drill hall on Holdsworth Street.
In addition to hosting gigs from national and international artists, the Fly by Night has helped the careers of WA stars John Butler, the Waifs, Eskimo Joe and Tame Impala, who all played or rehearsed in the 118-year-old hall.
The venue has waived hiring fees for community events, including performances by local primary schools.
The National Trust has advertised the lease, which expires in September, for the first time since it took over management of the hall in 2000.
Seven-year leases rolled over in 2001 and 2007 without being opened to other potential tenants.
The Fly by Night’s board of directors has written to the National Trust for the past two years to organise a meeting to discuss the lease and express their desire to continue using the hall.
No meeting has taken place, however the trust notified the club in April that they would call for lease applications prior to September.
Fly by Night executive director John Reid said the uncertainty surrounding the EOI process threatened the livelihood of the club.
He said he was advised not to book acts beyond the lease’s expiry in September.
National Trust of Australia (WA) chief executive Tom Perrigo said existing bookings would be honoured and the selection process fast-tracked.
The EOI process was required to display good governance and transparency, he said.
Mr Perrigo said the Fly by Night is a venue of social significance and a “very important community facility”.
He said the National Trust’s priority is to safeguard the heritage value of the iconic building rather than seek the best economic outcome.
“It would be unfair to compare what a community-based organisation offers in financial terms to a full commercial operator,” Mr Perrigo said.
He encouraged the Fly by Night to formally submit an EOI and business plan by the June 27 deadline.