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New live music and arts venture for Adelaide's West End

Arts & Culture

A new live music and arts venture will be launched next year in the ground floor of the Fowler’s building in Adelaide’s Lion Arts Centre, with the operators planning a major upgrade and revitalisation of the space.

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The news coincides with the announcement today that the venue’s current tenant, Fowlers Live, will close in December after 15 years’ operation.

Arts SA said that following a tender process, Adelaide-based music and events company Five Four Entertainment and Hugo Pedler of Penny Hospitality will take over the building’s ground floor, basement and mezzanine from January 1.

Pedler, one of the founders of Fat Controller and the operator behind the recent renovation of Hindley Street’s West Oak Hotel, told InDaily the Fowler’s project would now be the main focus of the two organisations.

“This is the most exciting project I’ve been involved in in my whole hospitality career,” he said.

“It’s in the perfect space for what we want to do: it’s already positioned as a live music venue, it’s in the perfect location in the West End, with the shift of the city, and we’ve got the perfect team on board to do it – it’s going to be great.”

Five Four Entertainment, launched in 2010 by Craig Lock and Ross Osmon, has been involved with festivals such as St Jerome’s Laneway Festival and Spin Off, as well as booking musicians for numerous venues and events, and managing artists such as Tkay Maidza.

Lock said the team were “very excited” about having their own space to operate.

“We are thrilled to take on such a beloved music and arts space, and continue its legacy as one of Adelaide’s premiere live music venues.”

Their main focus initially will be on live music, but Pedler says the team plans to look at hosting other types of performing arts, such as comedy and drama, in the longer term.

They also want to eventually make use of the kitchen in the building’s basement to serve food.

“We won’t activate it straight away, but over time it’s definitely a goal with the increasing amount of people in the West End …

“We would look to activate the old Lions courtyard and bring it back to what it once was, and to have it as a kind of cultural hub for the city.”

Although the new tenants will take over from January, the space will be closed for at least four weeks while they undertake what Pedler describes as “some serious renovations – we going to really upgrade the space, make it really impressive”.

The historic Fowler’s building is also home to the State Theatre Company and LWDance Hub (which will both continue as tenants) and is part of the Lion Arts Centre which houses the JamFactory, ACE Open, Guildhouse, Nexus Arts and the Media Resource Centre.

Fowler’s Live has operated as a live music venue in the building since 2003, but has been in a precarious position for several years under a series of short-term leases.

Operator Peter Darwin had reapplied to continue its tenancy, but was advised yesterday that he had been unsuccessful. He has also been unable to locate suitable alternative premises.

A statement issued by Fowler’s Live said the closure would “bring an end to one of the best live music venues in Australia and one which continuously offered licensed all-ages events to build audiences for original live music”.

At the end of 2016, after being granted a lease extension while he tried to find another location, Darwin told InDaily that he was not optimistic about the venue’s future beyond 2018.

He was unavailable for comment this morning, but a spokesperson said Fowler’s Live operators were grateful to have had the opportunity to operate “such a unique venue in the fashion they did” and “wish the new tenants, whoever they are, every success”.

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