Ballarat entertainment venue Sutton’s House of Music is closing its doors at the end of October, after the business was unable to renegotiate a lease with its landlord.
Sutton’s has put on over 600 music gigs in the past three years said manager Dani Fry, with 97 of those featuring Ballarat high school students.
Twenty full and part-time staff members will lose their jobs. Ms Fry said staff were informed of the decision to close Sutton’s on Sunday night.
Ms Fry said the business was healthy and doing well, but had struggled at times in the past which led to rental payments being missed. However all arrears had been paid and she regarded the business as an “exemplary tenant” now.
She said the landlord’s decision to offer a month-to-month lease meant she was unable to book artists with any certainty and made the business unviable.
We’ve worked so hard to tell that story and show off that beautiful interiorDani Fry
“We asked the landlord to honour (the agreement) by at least letting us see out the shows we had scheduled,” said Ms Fry. “So we’ll be closing our doors at the end of October and that’s where it stands.”
Ms Fry said she was proud of the work the venue had done in bringing live music to Ballarat, which had a music gig attendance rate second only to Melbourne.
She was also proud of the efforts of the staff in working with the descendants of Henry Sutton to make people aware of the historical interior of the building, which she says is not covered by any heritage overlay.
“At the moment it’s not protected, and we’ve worked so hard to tell that story and show off that beautiful interior; so I’ll be starting a petition to make people aware that it could be destroyed. They could do anything to it.”
Colliers International managing director David Wright, representing the building’s landlord, said he understood the closure of the venue was an emotional decision. He said it was unfortunate Sutton’s had breached essential items of their lease on occasion, and the landlord had chosen to exercise his right to terminate the lease under law.