Art Venues in Danger: We Need to Save the Nicholas Building and The Curtin Hotel

Art and culture are central to Melbourne’s identity. Personally, it’s one of the main reasons I love living here so much. Jumping on a tram to the Comedy Festival, seeing a show at La Mama, or being able to enjoy a live music performance almost any time of the week or year are some of the great joys of being a Melburnian.

It’s great to finally see the shows, fun and creativity slowly returning to our city, but in recent years Melbourne has sadly lost many of our iconic cultural sites and heritage buildings. The Palace/Metro Theater is just one example that comes to mind. Worryingly, two other art and creative species are now at risk: the Nicholas Building and The Curtin Hotel.

The Nicholas Building, a beautiful Art Deco landmark on Swanston St, is unique. This heritage building is home to a community of over 200 artists, creatives, and other independent businesses (think artists, writers, shoemakers, and more). But now the building is for sale, with the risk that more apartments will come.

The Curtin Hotel – a historic Carlton live music venue and pub that needs little introduction – faces a similar fate. The owners have also put it up for sale.

Heritage sites such as the Nicholas Building and the Curtin are special and are becoming increasingly rare in our city. Once they are lost, they are gone forever. Historic buildings are not rebuilt. With the loss of every location and creative space, Melbourne is losing a little more of its cultural heart.

But there is now a small window to save them. The only problem is: the state government won’t come to the party.

For the Nicholas Building, the City of Melbourne and philanthropists are willing to contribute significant funds and support to purchase this building and ensure it remains a hub for creative industry workers. But they need a small amount of support from the state government – something the Labor government refuses to do.

For The Curtin: The government could also step in and buy it, but has not pledged to do so, despite community groups and unions getting involved in fundraisers and campaigns.

These are unique buildings. There are few left in our city, and modest funds and support from the state government is all it takes to save them.

If these buildings are sold, it will be a huge loss to our city, to creative workers and to Melbourne’s culture.

For the past few months, I’ve been working hard in the community and in Parliament to try to reverse the state government’s stance. I will continue to campaign to make sure they are not lost. If you would like to participate, please contact my office by emailing us [email protected] and we can let you know how you can help!

You can also read more about my plans to support the arts and rebuild a thriving Melbourne CBD at

As always, if I can help you with anything, please get in touch •

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