Muso club now Sunset home
John Reid, executive director of the Fly by Night Musicians Club In Fremantle. Picture: Nic Ellis

The National Trust will negotiate the lease for the Artillery Drill Hall in Fremantle with local promoters Sunset Events.

The Fly by Night Musicians Club, current tenants and lease holders since 1986, may not be out in the cold, with Sunset offering the not-for-profit, member-based organisation priority community bookings at the live venue.

The National Trust announced the decision Monday night after calling for expressions of interest in the lease of the 118-year-old heritage building on Holdsworth Street in June.

The West Australian understands they received three submissions, including one from the Fly by Night.

National Trust chairman John Cowdell said the decision ensured the Artillery Drill Hall continues as a live performance and cultural venue accessible to local community groups.

"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 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," he said.

Mr Cowdell confirmed the National Trust was concerned about the continued sustainability of the Fly by Night at the hall.

He welcomed Sunset Events offer to provide the club with access to the venue.

A statement from Sunset Events said the Fremantle-based promoters would increase the amount of touring acts playing in both the main and smaller halls.

"Sunset has held initial discussions with a range of arts and community organisations with a vision for the venue to become a hub for new and emerging talent across a wide range of performing arts groups," the release said.

The promoters, who currently run Southbound, West Coast Blues and Roots and other music festivals, are willing to commit to a 21-year lease and plan to make significant investment towards the maintenance of the heritage building.

Sunset said they will widen the hours and uses of the Artillery Drill Hall, including selling food and beverages from the adjoining two-storey brick building.

Before the National Trust's decision was handed down, Fly by Night executive director John Reid said he did not want the club to enter into an inequitable arrangement with a commercial operation, such as Sunset Events.

The club's board refused Sunset Events' offer of making a joint submission to the National Trust.

The Fly by Night's lease at the hall was set to expire on September 11, but the Trust agreed to let the club stay until March to fulfil touring commitments.

Mr Reid, along with local musicians and Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk, plans to take a petition signed by about 7000 people to State Parliament on Tuesday.

City of Fremantle mayor Brad Pettitt floated a plan for the Fly by Night to move to an alternative venue, citing the former spaces occupied by defunct arts organisations Kulcha and Deckchair Theatre as potential new homes.

The West Australian

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