A PERTH jazz pianist, inspired by the young artists he teaches daily, has overcome challenges from two local councils and the liquor licensing authority to successfully pursue his dream of opening a jazz club. The Ellington Jazz Club, to be located on Beaufort Street in Perth, is the brainchild of co-owner Graham Wood who teaches students at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts as the director of music. Mr Wood and his business partner Bernard Kong are currently fitting out a 110-year-old heritage building to deliver a New York-style jazz club purpose built for live music. "We were quite keen on Beaufort Street because we thought that was a bit of a burgeoning entertainment precinct in Perth and we're hoping it will become the next strip," Mr Wood told WA Business News. It took almost a year for Mr Wood to receive his liquor licence, but that hasn't been the biggest hurdle to overcome. "We're actually in East Perth Redevelopment Authority and the Town of Vincent so there's two referring councils, so the development application process was a challenge," Mr Wood said. "One of the main issues was that we applied for a nightclub licence because that was the category that most suited our business...and I think a nightclub automatically just scares people off because they instantly think there's going to be drugs and violence and antisocial behaviour and people are concerned about that." "It's a much smoother pathway to opening in Sydney or Melbourne, in fact I know it is because I've got friends who have done exactly the same thing in Sydney and Melbourne," he said. Mr Wood questioned some of requirements being forced onto new licensed premises, such as parking. "Unfortunately there have been three small bar licenses up on Beaufort Street and all have been knocked back due to lack of parking and, I mean, that sounds absurd to me. "We're in the East Perth Redevelopment Authority and their parking policy is completely the opposite. "They want to restrict the number of car bays which is good. I dare say if we were 100 metres further up Beaufort (Street) we would've got knocked back due to lack of parking facilities...which I think is a bit short sighted." Mr Wood said the venue could provide opportunities for WAAPA graduates. "Unfortunately, a lot of the graduates find themselves leaving at the end of the course because they just don't have the performance opportunities here...the bleed of talent is quite significant from WA," Mr Wood said.
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