Following yesterday’s shock news that Sydney’s Annandale Hotel would be going into receivership, owners Dan and Matt Rule have responded to the reports that the doors of the iconic live music venue would be closing its doors imminently, while the newly elected Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne has thrown his support behind the legendary pub, saying he’ll do everything in his power to save it.

Responding to fans’ worries on the Annandale’s Facebook page, a statement yesterday noted that the Rule brothers had met with the bank “to discuss the position of the hotel,” as well as review the venue’s financial concerns. Adding that “the hotel is not closed and our goal is to work with the bank to ensure that live music will continue through this period.”

When Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne caught wind of the Annandale going into receivership, he quickly sought to draw attention to the venue’s plight. Speaking to The Age, the newly elected mayor stated: “I for one will be doing everything I can to make sure that the Annandale remains a live music venue, including working urgently with the receivers.”

“So many Australian artists have had their start playing at the Annandale; its loss would be a body blow to young performers across Sydney,” he said. “It is crucial that the Annandale remains a live music venue, we want rock-and-roll not residential development.”

The threat to Annandale’s future as a live music institution also poorly coincides with the forthcoming national Save Live Australian Music (SLAM) day on February 23rd, where musicians and music lovers will come together in support and celebration with over 200 gigs already planned to fill live music venues across Australia.

As FasterLouder points out, SLAM organisers criticised Mayor Byrne’s efforts as “too little too late”:

Mayor Darcy Byrne also told The Age that the Annandale’s potential closure “is a real wake-up call to everyone who supports live music, that governments need to get their act into gear and do something to revive the industry before it’s too late,” he said.

The Annandale first came to prominence as a live music venue in the 1980s, and has hosted hundreds of local acts since then, including The Living End, Midnight Oil, the Hoodoo Gurus, The Vines, and many more. Following a dark age in 1998, where new owners turned the venue from music hotspot to pokie-lined beer barn, the Rule brothers, Dan and Matt, bought the hotel in 2000, working hard to bring it back to its former glory as a live music institution.

This time last year, the Rules managed a last ditch attempt to save the iconic Sydney venue in their buy-a-brick scheme, originally launched in late 2011 in an effort to erase crippling debts of more than $250,000; tallied from a nasty eight year long legal battle with Leichhardt Municipal Council over late-night trading and noise complaints.

“Local Government must promote, not prosecute, live music venues.” – Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne

After looking to sell the business for over a year, come February 2012, the Rule brothers decided to pull down the ‘For Sale’ sign after raising over $50,000 funding from their scheme that managed to pump some much needed finances back into the venue, and while relations with council had improved, their financial struggles had not.

Along with the controversial closure of fellow live music institution The Sando mid-last year, later sold to the owners of Melbourne’s Northcote Social Club for a newly expanded venue called the Newtown Social Club (a move that was apparently made by the banks without the Sando’s owner Tony Townsend’s knowledge or consent), it marks a devastating blow for Sydney’s music culture.

Concerns that prompted Education Minister Peter Garrett to declare a ‘state of emergency’ last year, the renowned Midnight Oil frontman turned politician urging local supporters to come to the aide of their live music scene. “I really believe that this is a venue that’s been one of the spiritual homes to Australian artists,” said Garrett at the time; “That sweaty carpet can tell a lot of great stories.”

Cr Byrne is now following his lead, saying the difficulties experienced by both The Sando and now The Annandale reflect serious problems within the local music scene.

To that end Mayor Byrne said he would be seeking to reform Council planning in line with encouraging live music, not hindering it. “Local Government must promote, not prosecute, live music venues. This is real action – working with licensees, agents and promoters to establish a united front to bring productive change to Council policies so we can be more supportive of live music.”

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