SILENCED: Black Malabar owner Zac Perrington said the modifications required by Newcastle City Council to allow the Tudor Street venue to survive were cost-prohibitive. The last show is January 7. Picture: Max Mason-HubersTHE Black Malabar willclose in two weeks after its owner was unable to afford the $30,000 inmodifications required by Newcastle City Council to operate as a music venue.
Zac Perrington took over the lease for the Tudor Street venue,formerly known as The Unorthodox Church Of Groove, inJuly.When he realised it only had developmentapproval for a function centre, Perrington lodged a new DAand an application for a liquor license.
Since 2013, when venue ownersSuzie Darling and Paul Carruthersopened the former Methodist Church site as The Unorthodox Church of Groove, it has served a niche marketin the Newcastle music scene.
International and national world music, folk and jazz artists, plus theatre productionshave performed at the venue like Canada’sThe East Pointers and Ethiopian soul star Dereb the Ambassador.
Modifications required included soundproofing a wall, renovating the kitchen and installing disabled toilets.
A council spokesperson said “the DA assessment required additional information about safety and security, parking and loading facilities, disabled access and fire safety requirements.”
During the DA process, Perringtonspent $6000 in reports from sound engineers and otherexperts.Three weeks ago Perrington decidedto withdraw theDA.
“Ispent the whole year trying to get assessments and reports done and in the end I ended up getting frustrated with them,” Perrington said.
“I know they have a process, but they wouldn’t tell me what I needed to do from the beginning and a ballpark figure or time frame.”
Perrington saidhe was allowed to continue running The Black Malabar while the DA was pending.
Irish folk band Breaking Trad will perform the venue’sfinal show on January 7.
The Black Malabar’s demise follows the closure of The Commons last month. The Hamilton all-ages venueshutafter council ruled it failed to meet public health and safety regulations.
Perrington was formerly thesound techat the Unorthodox Church of Groove and believedit was his chance to pursuehis dream of running a music venue.
“I wanted to be running it as a live music lounge bar,” he said.“Somewhere comfortable to come to with a different style of music toeverywhere in Newcastle.”
But in order to be commercially viable, Perrington required a liquor licensewhich could only be granted once he received DA approval.
“The whole business model was based around having the bar,” Perrington said.“We never really made much on tickets sales as most of the ticket sales go to paying the band and paying the sound tech.
“After that, there wasn’t much for the venue to take.”