LIVE MUSIC SHUTDOWN: Front Up Club faces the axe

By Mitch Gaynor

MALENY’S live music scene could be wiped out after the Sunshine Coast Regional Council issued a letter of demand to owners of the Front Up Club.

Community arts coordinator Steve McLeish said he was devastated after the council issued what he said was a demand to cease and desist all live music at Maleny Lane by May 6.

“We now have the directive in writing from the Planning Dept in council and we have to shut down all music at the Maleny Lane by the 6th May,“ he wrote on Facebook.

We tried for an extension to no avail.

“I am so upset.”

The key community gathering space plays live music twice a week, with professional and amateur artists all able to take the stage.

Mr McLeish told GC&M News that he had been playing in the Maleny precinct for 30 years and at Maleny Lane for the past three years.

And now we’ve had a directive from Council stating we have until the 6th of May to move the music elsewhere, stop, or lodge the change of use,” he said.

“I’ve had 200 letters of support and now I’ve got two barristers donating their time and some really quite skilled people that are helping us with this issue.

“But what it’s about is more broadly is arts in regional communities and keeping the arts alive.”

Mr McLeish added: “The whole of Maleny Lane has been community-driven. The council has had forums about how they’re fully supporting the arts, but they haven’t paid a cent, they haven’t contributed anything.

“I want council to say you are doing a great thing, thanks very much and here’s some money to help you do it.”

Mr McLeish was now urging supporters to contact council to lodge their protest, which prompted dozens of messages of support today.

Division 5 Councillor Winston Johnston said he was aware of the issue.

“I’ve met with the principals and other interested parties and made representations to councils Town Planning compliance department and we are working through the issue and I’ll be in touch with the operators of the business early next week,” he said.

The Maleny Chamber of Commerce has expressed its dismay at the potential closure, saying the Front Up Club embodied the towns creative expression.

Chamber president Spencer Shaw said the limited number of appropriate venues only served to highlight the importance of the Front Up Club.

“After the closure of the Upfront Club many years ago, regular performance of live music in Maleny faltered” Mr Shaw wrote in a letter of support to Mr McLeish.

“However, with the formation of the Front Up club and the great venue that is Maleny Lane, we have seen a return of Live Music to the heart of Maleny, right where it belongs, both for residents and visitors.

“Steve, you and your team are to be commended for your initiative in bringing live music back to downtown Maleny.

“The Front Up Club is indicative and crucial in presenting the musical creativity of Maleny and should be supported in every reasonable way by Sunshine Coast Council, in what would be seen as an actual, genuine, expression of support to community, culture, arts and economic development.

“Maleny Commerce strongly supports this creative venture and urges SCC rapidly reconsider the
‘shutdown’ of live music in Maleny, and believes this would be damaging to our community, culture
and economy.”

Greens Spokesperson Andrew McLean told GC&M News that if council forced the venue to close it would “crush the soul of the town”.

“Maleny is a place known for its fight. We’re not going to be beige about this, we will fight it and we will win.”

“It’s a total outrage that these venues have spent three years in the wilderness because of Covid, they finally get the chance to shine and it’s been ripped away.”

The Sunshine Coast Regional Council has been contacted for comment.