Bugs performing at The Zoo, Brisbane | Credit: Will Johnstone

Brisbane Venue The Zoo Announces Imminent Closure

Owners of The Zoo, one of Brisbane‘s longest standing live music venues, have announced that the venue will be permanently shutting its doors later this year. The statement from the venue began by describing how “impossibly hard” it was to break the news to its patrons, especially considering the venue is in its 32nd year of operation.

“Sadly, the financial reality of keeping music venues afloat in 2024 is all too stark,” the statement read. “The Zoo reached its highest ticket sales in its 32-year history last year, yet this was still not enough to combat rising operational costs and decreasing returns.” The owners went on to note that the venue had effectively been “running at a loss” since 2021.

“Despite exploring every avenue available to us, we could not secure the level of support needed to surmount the continued financial strain,” the statement continued. “We have no choice but to call last drinks for both of our beloved music venues.”

The last sentence refers to Stranded Bar, a sister venue of sorts to The Zoo that opened in the 2020s on the street corner adjacent to The Zoo. That venue will call last drinks this coming Monday (May 6th), while the official closing date for The Zoo itself is set to be Monday July 8th.

You Am I – ‘Berlin Chair’ (Live at The Zoo)

The statement from the venue concluded with a message of encouragement to support live music, and to hold the Australian government accountable for allowing things like this to happen. “We hope you’ll continue to support local live music and keep the scene alive in Brisbane and nationwide,” it read.

“We encourage you to advocate for live music, to implore our government and music bodies to do everything they can to prevent more venues from closing their doors due to the industry-wide financial pressure that is decimating venues across the country.”

Holstein Wong – the Greens member for McConnel (the electoral district covering Fortitude Valley, where the Zoo is located) – has launched a petition calling upon the Queensland government to support endangered venues in the city. “The arts are integral to people’s quality of life, but the State government has done little to support live music,” Wong wrote.

Her petition aims “to get the State government to buy buildings across Queensland and lease them out to not-for-profits and Councils for creative industries and artists to use”. “With publicly-owned spaces for the arts, we can keep our local scene alive and create more jobs in the sector,” she wrote. 

“We’d like to see this start with the Zoo, handing it back to the people of Brisbane.” Wong’s petition, which has already received some 500 signatures, can be found here.

The news has been met with an outpouring of grief and supportive messages from across the Brisbane music community. Those that have posted in tribute to the venue thus far have included Powderfinger, Thelma Plum, Megan Washington, WAAX, Dune Rats, Art vs. Science, Beddy Rays, Jesswar, Violent Soho, Beckah Amani, Cry Club, Loser, Bugs, Tired Lion, sleepmakeswaves, Illy, Tia Gostelow, Drunk Mums, Katy Steele, Last Dinosaurs and Tones & I.

Further Reading

 Members Of Violent Soho, Powderfinger, Regurgitator Part Of The Zoo’s 30th B-Day Programming

Open Season 2024: Explosions In The Sky, Elefant Traks, Sky Ferreira + More

Powderfinger Bassist Slams QLD Government Over New Venue Restrictions

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