Shebeen, one of Melbourne’s most beloved small capacity live music venues and watering holes, is shutting down. According to an email acquired by Tone Deaf from venue bookers The Venue Collective, Shebeen will close later this month.

“We’ve just received absolutely devastating news from the owner of Shebeen that the entire venue and band room will be forced to shut down on Sat 25 Jun [sic],” the email reads. “There will be an official statement from the owner tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, local muso Juñor, who was booked to play the room at the end of the month, has confirmed he will reschedule the upcoming show after being notified that “SHEBEEN BANDROOM will be PERMANENTLY CLOSING as of June 25th”.

“Over the last 12 months it has become apparent that the wall of our band room is shared with the Melbourne East Police Station’s sleeping quarters,” the owners of the venue wrote in a statement.

“As a result we have received significant pressure from the Police and the VCGLR, and we received an infringement notice from the VCGLR which we have unsuccessfully appealed.”

“After working with our landlord to look at all available options we are incredibly sad to announce that we will be closing Shebeen for business on June 25.”

“We’re deeply sorry for all of the shows that were booked after this date and are working flat out with The Venue Collective to find new homes for all of these shows.”

“We owe a huge thank you to everyone that has been a part of Shebeen to date, and would love to see you for one last non-profit song, banh mi or drink before we close our doors.”

Tone Deaf have obtained a copy of Shebeen’s venue license and have found they have been operating with a restaurant and cafe license, which does not permit one to operate the venue in the way management have.

For example, “tables and chairs must be placed in position on the licensed premises so as to be available for at least 75% of the patrons attending the premises at any one time”.

Other stipulations of a restaurant and cafe license also include “the predominant activity carried out at all times on the licensed premises must be the preparation and serving of meals for consumption on the licensed premises”.

The live performance of any musical works and the playing of any recorded musical works at a level higher than background music is also not permitted “outside ordinary trading hours”, though Shebeen management have told Tone Deaf that the venue’s gigs always ended at 11pm.

Whilst venue management would not expand on just what the nature of the infringement notice from the VCGLR was, the nature of Shebeen’s license suggests the infringement could have had to do with more than simply noise complaints.

The closure of the Melbourne venue, which was inspired by African street bars and whose profits went to help development projects overseas, comes just a month after the dissolution of The Venue Collective, who handled bookings for Shebeen.

The group shut down operations due to the challenges inherent in “a centralised office programming and promoting interstate venues” and the turbulent live music climate. However, there’s no indication the group’s dissolution is related to the closure of Shebeen.

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