05/12/2007 - 22:00

Not for profit: Fly by Night no fly by night

05/12/2007 - 22:00

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Fremantle’s Fly By Night Musicians Club has become an institution for musicians and music lovers over its 21-year history, growing into one of Western Austra-lia’s most iconic performing arts venues.

Not for profit: Fly by Night no fly by night

Fremantle’s Fly By Night Musicians Club has become an institution for musicians and music lovers over its 21-year history, growing into one of Western Austra-lia’s most iconic performing arts venues.

 

Having battled a series of financial issues in recent years, the venue created by musicians for musicians is back on its feet and is set for some major changes in 2008.

 

General manager John Reid says the club has stayed true to its mission of existing for musicians and the community.

 

“It’s very egalitarian. We have the top musicians from around the world here, and our small member bands can play on the same stage,” he told WA Business News.

 

Housed in a former Artillery Drill Hall built in 1896, the Fly By Night hosts about 130 acts each year in its 500-capacity performance space, from CD launches by local acts to shows by some of the biggest names in Australian and international music.

 

The venue was the brainchild of US-born, Perth-based Grammy Award winning pedal steel guitarist Lucky Oceans, who assembled a group of like-minded musicians, including Margaret River musician and guitar maker, Scott Wise, in the mid-1980s to remedy the lack of music venues in Fremantle.

 

Since its official opening in November 1986, the Fly, as many know it, has grown to be the largest not-for-profit musicians’ club in Australia. It also led the move towards smoke-free music venues, becoming the first venue in Australia to be completely smoke free.

 

Mr Reid says the club’s bold move to go smoke free in 1996 was one of the key moments in the venue’s history.

 

The decision initially grew from a visit by John Cale, formerly of The Velvet Underground, who last played at the club in 1993, and specified that all venues he played in were required to be smoke free.

 

Three years later, the smoke-free edict became permanent, which also signalled the start of the club’s relationship with its current major sponsor, Healthway.

 

Appointed to the management role in 2002, Mr Reid came into the role at a time of mounting financial troubles for the club.

 

Immediately putting a curb on spending and reducing its debt from ‘quite substantial’ levels, Mr Reid, along with the club’s new board, were able to put the club back on track financially.

 

The club currently receives about 45 per cent of its total funding from a combination of government grants and its funds from major sponsor, Healthway, with revenue from membership fees, venue hire and bar takings making up the rest.

 

But this year it is looking to reduce its reliance on government funds by increasing its levels of corporate sponsorships.

 

As well as building an ongoing relationship with the club, corporate partners also can become involved with some of the Fly’s major projects in the year ahead.

 

Its ambitious renovation project, scheduled for early 2008, will involve changes to both the interior and exterior of the club.

 

Changes to the interior will include relocating the stage and increasing the club’s production abilities, including the video recording of live acts and the installation of a new PA system.

 

The latter will open up sponsorship opportunities for sound companies wishing to put their brand in front of tens of thousands of punters, as well as a host of nationally and internationally renowned artists, each year.

 

For the exterior, renovation work will be conducted by the building’s manager, the National Trust of Australia (WA), which will also incorporate the placement of historic information on the building to raise awareness of its place in Fremantle’s military history.

 

“We’re really looking at getting the Fly back on the map,” Mr Reid said.

 

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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