A favourite among Perth music fans and those who are fringe-minded, The Bakery in James St, Northbridge, went up for sale today. BOB GORDON chats with Artrage Chief Executive, Marcus Canning, about the road ahead.
How long has the sale been on the cards?What are your thoughts on the decision to sell?
We’re really thankful to have had 12 great years with a very supportive landlord.
We’ve been in discussion with them about the potential for a sale for awhile now and totally understand their decision to sell given the increased value of the property in the current market.
What are the realities of running a venue like The Bakery?
Artrage has been around for over 30 years. We’re a very dynamic organisation that moves with the times and adapts to meet the changing needs of the community we serve.
When we developed the venue in 2002, it filled a gap in the Perth ecology and was a means for Artrage to increase its year- round activity whilst generating revenue streams independent of government funding.
It’s now 2014. FRINGE WORLD Festival’s been running for four years. Things have changed a lot for us. FRINGE WORLD is our primary reason for being, and the means by which we not only have the greatest positive impact on Perth’s cultural vibrancy, but also the way we reach the largest number of people.
KULCHA is gone, the Fly By Night is under threat and now The Bakery faces an uncertain future as a live venue. Do you feel this is indicative of the state of affairs at the moment, or just a normal cultural/commercial shift over the course of time?
It’s strange timing that all three of these venues are in the same closure limelight, but they’re really not part of the same story line.
It’s a basic law that the only certainty is change, and as an organisation we’re always exploring the positive potential that exists in change, regardless of whether we’re driving it, or it’s driving us.
What will be the effect of not having The Bakery on FRINGE WORLD in 2016?
If the new owner isn’t interested in the continuance of a venue, then our plan is to remove all the infrastructure we’ve put into The Bakery over the last decade and make a mobile venue that can pop-up in FRINGE WORLD 2016. This was in our mind when we designed the space using the converted sea containers, etc. it’s a venue fabric that’s relatively easy to disassemble and pop on the back of a truck.
If a new owner comes aboard and decides not to use the venue for live music, is it possible that The Bakery license could continue during the time that future plans are up for council approval?
Regardless of who ends up purchasing the venue, we’ll be having discussions with them about their plans for the site and timelines associated with such. All things going well, the new owner will be known by the end of August. This gives us a decent amount of time to chat about future plans with them before our current lease expires in March.
What do you feel would be the best outcome for The Bakery site?
Our No. 1 wish is for a genuine hero with a passion for local culture to buy the property and ensure the venue continues.
I’m sure the tens of thousands of artists that have been supported at The Bakery and the hundreds of thousands of Bakery punters over the last decade would agree.
That being said, we’ve come to peace with the fact that this might not occur. We’re hoping to making the next seven months memorable at The Bakery regardless and we hope people make the most of it whilst it’s still here.