As another of Perth’s live music venues faces an uncertain future, it’s time for a moment of reflection and then sustained action.
The William Street Bird, affectionately known as The Bird, has nurtured the early careers of some real up and coming superstars over the years. Names like Flume, Tame Impala, Stella Donnelly, Methyl Ethyl and Anesu played at The Bird in the early stages of their careers and the venue continues to play host to Perth’s best emerging artists.
For how much longer remains in the hands of us, the punters, bands, promoters, all of us who’ve had a connection with The Bird over the years.
The Bird is now calling on the on the community for help.
As the world grapples with the delayed ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic and a shift in how people consume both live entertainment and socially, The Bird is now facing financial challenges it could not have anticipated. Changing consumer habits, particularly in beverage spending, and the financial ramifications of prolonged lockdowns threaten the very essence of what this institution stands for.
For director Kabir Ramasary, it’s crunch time. “Venues across Australia, like Melbourne’s cherished Tote and Sydney’s iconic Enmore Theatre, are grappling with similar challenges, and although we’ve fought for a long time, it’s our turn on the chopping block,” said Ramasary. “This is do or die for us, and so we’re calling on our community for help.”
Of all the Perth and Fremantle venues that have called out for help over the years, or have just quietly gone under, their positions beyond rescue, The Bird feels like one that could be the beginning of some sort of an end.
As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, this is a very poignant moment for me, personally. The Bird has always ardently championed diversity, with 50% of staff identifying as non-traditional gender roles and hosting events that celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. They even gave an old biddy like me an opportunity to program one of their Whensgay events earlier this year. Plus they’ve been the most gracious hosts to artists I have worked with over the years as we’ve launched new music and connected with audiences.
The Bird’s commitment to accessibility is manifest in the venue’s wheelchair-friendly design, gender-neutral restrooms, Braille signage, and acceptance of companion cards for support workers. The Bird’s ethos is not just about music; it’s about inclusivity, community, and fostering a space where everyone is welcome, whether you’re there to watch live music or relax comfortably in the beer garden alone, or with friends, amongst good vibes and like-minded people.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Enter Keep The Bird Flying, a public campaign consisting of a twofold initiative to engage the community and raise funds to keep The Bird soaring high. From Jan 13 to Feb 4, The Bird will host a series of themed gigs—Indie/Rock/Pop, Hip Hop, Alternative, and Queer—where local talent will take to the stage while guests indulge in a four-hour bar package of free-flowing drinks in exchange for $100 tickets. Coinciding with the series is a crowdfunding campaign, hosted by the Australian Cultural Fund, with a fundraising target of $25,000, with every donation made being tax deductible. Aiming to raise $100,000 across both initiatives, (enough to keep the wind beneath The Bird’s wings for the foreseeable future), every cent raised will be reinvested into the venue, keeping staff employed and revitalising the space so it is primed to welcome the next generation of artists, audiences and general pub goers.
“By supporting this fundraiser, you’re making a statement—that the arts matter, that diversity matters, that community matters,” said Ramasary. “Support The Bird and keep its song alive and flying. Every donation, big or small, will ensure that the song of The Bird never fades.”