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West End music venue secures reprieve

Music

Fowler's Live has been granted a further lease extension after being unable to find a new home, but operator Peter Darwin is not optimistic about the live music venue's future beyond 2018.

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The latest reprieve will see the 500-capacity venue continue in its current location at the Lion Arts Centre in the West End until June 2018.

Fowler’s Live was originally scheduled to close around the middle of next year, but Darwin said the extra period was secured after “lengthy negotiations prompted by Premier Jay Weatherill” following a fruitless 24-month search to find an alternative site.

Darwin said that while the extension was welcome, the impression that closure was imminent had damaged the venue’s operation, with gig bookings by interstate promoters dropping off in 2015 and into 2016 “until we convinced people we are still open”.

“We are committed to try to find another location, but are disheartened by the fact the government, whilst promoting its credentials as a leader in fostering live music, has chosen to reallocate Fowler’s Live to other uses when it’s so uniquely suited to live original music and the all-ages audience.”

Darwin said that given the difficulty of finding an alternative city site that was both suitable and affordable, it was possible Fowler’s Live might still be forced to close in 2018.

“I’m certainly not exactly encouraged to think we’ll be able to find somewhere within 18 months.”

Fowler’s Live, which describes itself as Adelaide’s “original live music venue”, has been operated by Darwin and his partner Michelle Haynes since 2003 and hosts weekly gigs.

Asked for comment this morning about its intentions for the site, an Arts SA spokesperson told InDaily: “The Government continues to support Fowler’s Live through a further extension to the lease on the venue while the longer-term plans for the site continue to be developed.”

The Fowler’s building currently has two other tenants: the State Theatre Company of SA, which moved its offices upstairs around three months ago and now also has a rehearsal space there, and the LWDance Hub, led by Leigh Warren.

At the time the State Theatre move was announced in 2014, Arts Minister Jack Snelling said it was in line with the Government’s goal of “clustering” performing arts activity in the city.

In his statement, Darwin acknowledged that Fowlers Live had been given a series of short-term lease extensions since October 2014 “as other developments had not progressed as planned”.

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