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Music Victoria Backs Campaign To Save Palace Theatre From Demolition

Written by Mike Hohnen on July 8, 2013

Music Victoria has thrown its weight behind an online campaign aimed at preventing Melbourne’s Palace Theatre from being demolished to make way for new apartments.

In the statement, Music Victoria CEO Patrick Donovan anticipates dire effects on the local music scene should The Palace close for business. He points out that the medium-sized venue offers a stage for high-profile acts both local and international; without it promoters will only be left with the option of downsizing, at the risk of losing ticket sales, or upsizing and playing to a half-empty room in a more expensive venue.

Donovan compares the situation to that of The Tote, which suffered at the hands of what he calls “draconian liquor licensing laws”, but points out that it was people-power that ultimately resulted in that venue being saved:

“When the landlord of The Tote building realised how much passion there was for it as a band venue, he decided to let the new leaseholders continue hosting bands. So the more signatures that are raised for the Palace petition, the better chance that that message will get through.”

News that The Palace Theatre was under threat broke over the weekend after it was revealed that its new owners, Chinese property investment firm Jinshan Investments, planned to demolish the venue to make way for Australia’s first W Hotel, a luxury apartment chain.

A ‘Save The Palace’ online campaign was launched soon after, and has now attracted more then 20,000 Facebook followers. The petition, aimed at planning minister Matthew Guy, has amassed nearly 10,000 signatures in just a few days.

Read the full statement from Patrick Donovan below and consider adding your signature to the petition here.

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“A note regarding the Palace Theatre from Music Victoria CEO, Patrick Donovan:

The Palace is one of Melbourne’s best live music venues – a beautiful building full of character, great sightlines and production, centrally located, run by experienced operators, and one of the few medium sized venues that can host the bigger Australian acts as well as international touring bands.

Its absence would leave a huge gap for 2,000 capacity standing room venues, which would be a huge blow after losing the former Palace in St Kilda.

In its absence, promoters would have to look at downsizing to The Forum, which is already heavily booked with other events such as the comedy and film festival, moving to the Palais Theatre, which has no standing area, or upsizing to Festival Hall.

Victorians love their venues and in only a few days, more than 20,000 music fans have pledged their love for the Palace in a social media campaign to save it, and over 9,000 have signed the online petition.

The government acknowledged the economic and cultural contribution of a live music scene that contributes more than $1 billion to the economy when it amended the Liquor Act’s objects.

People-power and a looming election conspired to save The Tote, which was buckling under recently implemented draconian liquor licensing laws. But this is a different scenario – like the East Brunswick Club, a new owner has done their sums and realised they can make more money out of apartments.

However, when the landlord of The Tote building realised how much passion there was for it as a band venue, he decided to let the new leaseholders continue hosting bands. So the more signatures that are raised for the Palace petition, the better chance that that message will get through.”

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