Updated: May 18
It is with heavy hearts that we announce that we will not be reopening our arts space at 83 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy.
Since launching in 2016, we have worked tirelessly to provide a platform for independent arts practice, hosted more than 400 artists working in a diversity of forms, and presented more than 200 events and productions.
Our aim in doing so was always to create the conditions and context for the dynamic exchange between artists and audience, which was never more present than within the sacred walls of our small performance space. Over time we built a community and each year thousands of people made their way to The Burrow, to share in unique arts experiences, and to be part of that exchange.
We received support from far and wide, as people donated what they could and came to assist with building and painting, working behind the bar and the tech desk. They took risks with us, they experimented and explored with us, they talked and sang, they drank and danced, laughed and cried and came on the journey with us—we couldn’t be more grateful.
But for all that we did manage to achieve in the last four years, we weren’t able to secure funding in order to create a sustainable base from which to operate. We ran the venue entirely on door share and bar sales, and didn’t pay ourselves for the countless hours we put in. The reality is that with very little support available for independent presenters and a high level of personal financial investment and risk, we must say farewell to 83 Brunswick Street.
While the loss of our small venue may seem insignificant in the wake of the greater crisis, it signals the beginning of a much larger problem faced by the arts industry in Australia. Government support has been declining for a number of years, and live performance venues, both large and small, are facing the same difficult decision that we have made.
As more of our venues close or struggle to recover from this crisis, a generation of artists will lose access to the formative experiences that these spaces provide, their work will lose the benefit of the transformative exchange that only occurs in a live context, and we will lose those diverse voices that are more important now than ever. We hope that the Government will provide the necessary support, long-term strategy and policy that is desperately needed by our industry, before it is too late.
While it is disappointing to let go of something that you have invested so much of yourself in, this is certainly not the end for The Burrow—we are out...but not down. For all it is a difficult time to be working in the arts, it is what we love, and we couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We are artists and producers, space holders and place makers, facilitators and programmers. We love creating the context for performing arts to exist.
While we are saying farewell to 83 Brunswick Street, we are welcoming a new era as The Burrow Underground; bringing communities together to share online arts experiences, creating pop-up venues and activating disused spaces, and continuing to support independent artists as producers and presenters of events, arts projects and tours.
We hope that you’ll follow us down the rabbit-hole on this next stage of the journey, and that you’ll be continue to be part of our underground community.
x Pip & Swiss