The Curtin Hotel, a mainstay of Melbourne’s live music scene, is closing

Operators said the building's owners had chosen to sell, "making way, most likely for apartments"

The John Curtin Hotel, a pub and venue that has long served as a staple of Melbourne’s live music scene, is set to close.

In a statement posted to the hotel’s social media pages yesterday, operators confirmed “with an agonisingly sad heart” that the building’s owners had chosen to sell it off – likely making way, they said, for apartments.

The venue’s current operators have a lease until the end of November this year. “Beyond that, we have no idea what the developers will have planned for us,” they wrote. “We will have a lot more to say on the matter down the line, but I assure you, we will go out with a BANG!”

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The historic Carlton venue, named after 1940s Labor prime minister John Curtin, is one of Australia’s oldest pubs. Situated across the road from the Victorian Trades Hall, the Curtin has long been a popular meeting place for labour movement members and union figures, and was a regular watering hole of former Labor PM Bob Hawke.

It’s also been a mainstay of Melbourne’s live music community. In recent years the venue had hosted local acts including Amyl and the Sniffers, Magic Dirt, Alice Skye, Primo!, Exek, Constant Mongrel and many more, as well as internationals like Gang of Four, Japanese Breakfast, Big Thief, Protomartyr and Bass Drum of Death.

In their statement, operators encouraged acts who had never played the Curtin and those who had “sold out the room and would like to do it again” alike to contact the venue’s booker Paris Martine to enquire about organising a show.

The Curtin’s impending closure comes a fortnight after it was revealed the Lansdowne Hotel in Sydney would cease live music operations at the end of April, under similar circumstances.

Since 2017, the venue had been under the stewardship of Mary’s Group, hosting countless local and international acts in its band room and front bar space. Earlier this month, however, operators revealed the building’s landlords had decided to shutter the gig room in order to renovate it into hotel accommodation, prompting their departure altogether.

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Earlier this month, The Curtin’s operators hit out against perceived inconsistencies in the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and their impact on small live venues.

“Mass gathering events are happening all over Melbourne,” they wrote on Facebook, pointing out that tens of thousands of tennis fans were recently able to attend a stadium for the Australian Open, but that strict density quotients remained in place for indoor venues.

“These rules make no sense,” they said at the time. “They only hurt small artists who are losing gigs, staff who are losing shifts and small businesses.”

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