First The Tote, now the Arthouse: Melbourne liquor licensing crackdown claims another casualty

The Arthouse Hotel in North Melbourne. The low-budget venue has announced it will not be renewing its lease, in part owing to extra security costs imposed by the Victorian government

In sad but utterly predictable news, another low-cost Melbourne rock pub has announced it will be shutting its doors.

As reported in Mess + Noise today, The Arthouse Hotel, a low-budget live music venue in North Melbourne, has announced it will not be renewing its lease.

In a statement to M+N, manager Melanie Bodiam, whose family has run the venue since its inception, said the venue has suffered from the same Liquor Licensing regulations that contributed to The Tote’s demise. “The Arthouse is affected by the new liquor licensing laws that kicked in on the 1st of January this year. As a consequence we are now licensed till 1am opposed to 3am as before. I’m sure you can imagine the impact of loss off revenue and staffs wages.”
A frosty relationship with The Arthouse’s current landlord has also been a major factor in the family’s decision not to renew the lease.

Andrew Crook from Crikey has more coverage. Crook claims that Victorian Labor MPs including The Tote’s local member, Richard Wynne, are so worried about the potential voter backlash over the issue that they are seeking to modify tough new security regulations imposed by Liquor Licensing Victoria:

As hallowed punk-rock incubator The Arthouse announced it was going the way of The Tote and shutting its doors next year, the owner of several live music venues, and a leading candidate to take over The Tote’s license, Jon Perring, told Crikey he will meet next week with Victorian gaming minister Tony Robinson to thrash out a new deal that would see security linked to a venue’s alcohol sales as opposed to current laws which are triggered by the presence of “live or amplified music”.

“I’ll be seeing Tony Robinson. It’s a no-brainer to fix, it just requires the commission to de-link security compliance with live music and relate it to alcohol consumption,” Perring said.

“There’s no relationship between live music and violence. If we can’t fix this problem there’s no way of saving the Tote. It’ll be hasta la vista baby and we’ll be back to watching Lateline.”

A major factor in the demise of The Tote under licensees Bruce and James Milne was a doubling in security expenses from $60,000 to $120,000 a year after the venue was issued with a a new set of demands by Liquor Licensing Victoria chief Sue Maclellan.


The issue of live music venues is considered a serious election issue by the state government, especially in marginal inner-city electorates that could see sitting members skittled by the Greens. The member for Richmond, Richard Wynne, is sitting on a tenuous 3.1% buffer in his electorate, which includes The Tote. The electorate of Melbourne, which includes The Arthouse, is held by Bronwyn Pike by an even slimmer margin of 1.9%.

The level of interest in the issue in inner-suburban Melbourne can be gauged by the media attention focussed on The Tote’s owner, millionaire Computershare Chairman Christopher Morris.

”It’s amazing, it really is,” Mr Morris told The Age’s Mark Hawthorn. ”There’s more interest in a pub in Collingwood than the performance of Computershare.”

One thought on “First The Tote, now the Arthouse: Melbourne liquor licensing crackdown claims another casualty

  1. Pingback: When cultural policy becomes an election issue « A Cultural Policy Blog

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s