The Tivoli is not only one of Brisbane’s most loved live music venues, located in the Fortitude Valley, the heart of the city’s live music scene, it’s also been described as “one of Brisbane’s most successful music venues”.
But despite its high profile and prestigious reputation, the owners and operators of The Tivoli, the O’Rourke family, are having trouble offloading the venue and have begun shopping it around for potential redevelopment.
“We bought it in 1999 when it was a theatre-restaurant and in receivership,” John O’Rourke recently told The Courier Mail. “We had a tenant in there for five years and after they left we kept it going as a live music venue for 12 years.”
“So the only reason why it became an icon was because we bought it. We love The Tivoli and are proud of the business we built in a relatively short time. However my mum now needs care and my four sisters all have families, so it’s time for us to move on.”
As Tone Deaf recently reported, Colliers International has listed the site as a “prime inner city development” for potential buyers. As selling agent Leon Alaban of Ray White Hotels told Fairfax in 2013, the site is not heritage listed and could be redeveloped.
“We’ve tried to find someone to take it on over the last four years but no one wanted to do it and we couldn’t get anyone to buy it,” O’Rourke said. “We’ve tried to sell it to people in the music industry, some of the biggest names, but they weren’t interested.”
The site’s potential redevelopment has angered many in the Brisbane music community. “All I am trying to do is do the right thing for my father on his death bed who asked me to look after the family and I’m getting panned for doing the right thing,” O’Rourke said.
“We are not a conglomerate. We are a family with bills to pay. We’re quite happy to sell it to the council or government. We’re quite happy to see it continue but we need someone to come along and want to continue it.”
The venue currently has gigs booked until September, including performances from triple j Hottest 100 winners The Rubens, as well as Sarah Blasko, Sticky Fingers, and international visitor City and Colour, many of which have already sold out.