Newtown performance space The Old 505 Theater – aka Venue 505 – will close its doors for the final time next month, almost exactly a year after its owners first announced plans to close operations.
Last March, directors Cameron Undy and Kerri Glasscock deemed the venue “untenable” in the live music climate Sydney has faced during the COVID-19 pandemic. A wave of local support and financial aid – including $200,000 from the state government’s Live Music Support Fund – helped the couple keep 505 afloat for another year, however, in a new statement, they admitted that the current situation is “too much” to justify staying open.
Announcing their intention to close the site indefinitely last Friday (4 February), Undy and Glasscock said: “The last decade has been incredibly difficult for Sydney sites due to lockdowns, archaic regulations, pressures from the gentrification and rising costs of doing business; but nothing has compared to the impacts we have felt over the past two years. We have worked hard to reinvent our offer, our business model and continue.
“We have partnered with our friends at Sydney Fringe to share space, reduce risk and protect the site; We have received tremendous support from building administrators and the government that has kept us going over the past 24 months, but the reality of operating in this environment for a third year is simply untenable.
“The New Year’s wave of Omicron has thrown our sectors’ recovery plans out the window, exposed our fragility and to be frank, it’s just too much. So we’ve made the decision to wrap up 505 and stop showcasing work at the Newtown site, as such the final Acoustic Ritual shows will be in March, then we’ll stop and take a deep breath.
For 18 years, 505 has been an essential member of Sydney’s musical and theatrical landscape. Over the years we have had many…
Posted by Old 505 Theater on Thursday, February 3, 2022
While the pair haven’t dismissed the idea of continuing 505’s legacy in other forms – “I’m sure we’ll pop up here and there and of course we’ll continue to find ways to provide gigs for artists. and creative space where we can,” they wrote – Undy and Glasscock confirmed that they have no plans to move 505 to another physical space.
“We don’t know what the future holds for 505, [but] it is unlikely that we will have a permanent bricks and mortar space again, certainly not in the near future,” they said.
The news comes just days after it was announced that another iconic Sydney venue, the Lansdowne Hotel, would close its music venue in April. The closure of this venue, it was reported, was due to the owners’ decision to renovate the upstairs performance space into a hostel. Also earlier this month, comedy theater Giant Dwarf was forced to close permanently.
Talk to The Sydney Morning HeraldSydney City Councilor Linda Scott has called on Premier Dominic Perrottet to offer his support to the city’s live entertainment sector, “to stop the death of Sydney’s fun”.
Describing the Old 505, Lansdowne and Giant Dwarf as “the holy trinity of independent live music and creative spaces in Sydney”, she continued: “Their deaths will be added to the COVID count, but the truth is that their demise started well before the pandemic. The closure of these three once-vibrant sites in Sydney lays bare the legacy of inaction by all levels of government.
In his own statement, John Graham – NSW’s Shadow Music Minister – said Undy and Glasscock had been “a driving force for independent music and theater in Sydney for almost two decades”. He, too, called for increased government support for the city’s performing arts industry, writing: ‘Sydney has been in the grip of a performance venue crisis. This is now one of his lowest points.
“It doesn’t have to be that way. Supporting popular sites with financial and regulatory support is possible to keep their doors open, even in the face of lockouts, lockdowns, and Omicron. If we don’t step up support, Sydney will be unrecognizable.