The venue has been under threat since the O’Rourke family, who have run a vibrant scene there since 1999, announced it was “time to move on” and the site went up for sale as a “prime inner-city development site.” The O’Rourke’s were having trouble shifting the building as a venue after illness in the family had forced them to sell, so they had to think of something else and list the site for development.
“We’ve tried to find someone to take it on over the last four years but no one wanted to do it and we couldn’t get anyone to buy it,” O’Rourke told The Courier Mail. “We’ve tried to sell it to people in the music industry, some of the biggest names, but they weren’t interested.”
That’s when building developer Scott Hutchinson stepped in – he’s basically Australian live music’s Robin Hood right now. Heeding the cries of distress from music lovers around Australia, Hutchinson’s company, Hutchinson Builders, reportedly pitched a tender for the site on Thursday and said, “We don’t know who else is interested but we’re going to keep it as a music venue.”
Speaking to AAP, Hutchinson continued: “I’m just heavily interested in music in Brisbane — I love it. I don’t have horses or fast cars or boats or planes or anything. Going out in Brisbane is my thing.”
Built in 1917, the art deco building on Costin Street in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley has been at the heart of the city’s music scene for years and its closure – coupled with increasingly draconian lockout laws – could spell disaster for live music in the city.
Executive officer of Queensland music charity Q Music, Joel Edmondson, has said, “We’d lose a venue that’s been incredibly important to the history of live music in Brisbane. [Coupled with the lockout laws] it’s a bit of a double whammy.”
He continued: “I think this is where the government’s got a responsibility to do what it can and come in and protect not only the heritage of the building itself, but what the building does culturally for Brisbane.” He concluded by saying the loss of The Tivoli would be “one more nail in Brisbane’s coffin.”
A Change.org petition calling for the building to be heritage listed has been signed by over 8,500 people in two weeks.
Watch: The 1975 play The Tivoli