The Sunshine Coast’s recovering music industry has been hit hard with the region’s biggest music venue suddenly closing its doors for good.
- Live music venue and entertainment precinct NightQuarter is closing its doors
- One of the owners of the company, Mrs. Michelle Christoe, says that the business has no money
- The owners say that COVID restrictions, the cost of living and bad weather have led to the closure
NightQuarter owner Michelle Christoe said Birtinya’s entertainment district has been hit hard by economic slowdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic, floods and rising costs of living.
“We are heartbroken,” Ms Christoe said in a statement.
“We sold our house and put it into business to help us at this time.
“However, attendance rates for live music events and night markets have not changed due to COVID and we are desperate.”
The 150,000 square foot facility was built from shipping containers and opened during the pandemic in November 2020.
The owners operated a similar location on the Gold Coast from 2015 to 2019.
The facility was closed by Queensland Health for breaching CCID-19 restrictions in June last year.
“In hindsight, we could have done better to control our ‘crowd’, but we did our best,” Mrs Christoe said.
“We still feel like we were wrongly targeted … this incident has been a shadow over us ever since.”
The Omicron wave that ended the season resulted in 11 concerts being canceled at NightQuarter in early 2022.
That was compounded by damage from the February floods.
“One of the events we did with Triple J’s biggest hit in January was a 60 per cent no-show,” Ms Christoe said.
“This was a bad result for everyone from the customers to the artist and the staff, but especially for the venue that makes money from the food and drink sales made during the concerts.”
Ms Christoe said the center had commissioned a survey by the University of the Sunshine Coast to “investigate consumer confidence and shopping habits on the Sunshine Coast”, which showed lack of travel, inflation and rising costs of living were acting as a deterrent to crowds.
“Recent tour cancellations by the likes of The Whitlams and Sunnyboys and disappointing sales from national tours by the likes of Thelma Plum and James Reyne have confirmed the move,” he said.
All tickets for upcoming shows are refundable through Moshtix.
Resilient industry survives
Chairman of the Sunshine Coast Music Industry Alliance, Andy Ward, said it was a huge loss for the local music industry and meant job losses.
“In the survey we did at the beginning of the year, we found that the Sunshine Coast has the most active musicians of all places in Australia,” he said.
Dr Ward, who is also a lecturer in manufacturing at the University of the Sunshine Coast, said the audience needed to be educated about the consequences of buying tickets at the last minute.
“What we are seeing now is that people are already waiting to see if the show will be canceled or not,” he said.
“Music officials… if they don’t see ticket sales two to three months from the gig, they’re going to cancel the show.
“Not only because of CCIDs influence, but because they are worried that they won’t be able to pay their bills again.”
Dr Ward, however, said there was hope for the future.
“The good news is the Sunshine Coast music industry is stable,” he said.
“It’s really in its emerging stages.”
He said that there was a need to do small to medium events to start building an audience.
“We need to be loud as music consumers, that we want to pay for tickets, buy alcohol, buy food, stand in line and do work,” he said.
“Because it’s not just a cultural image. An economic image of the region begins.”
A cultural change is needed
Sunshine Coast singer and music producer Andrea Kirwin said the region could lose out on the big tourist attractions that once attracted the local population.
“It really leaves a big hole in the tourism region, which means less money for our hospitality industry,” he said.
“We have a lot of good bands and yet most of us play to a quarter full room… because people aren’t going out and don’t want to pay the ticket prices when they could just get drinks and. just be at home listening to Spotify.
“Cultural change needs to happen.”