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Wednesday, 20 September 2017 12:38 am

Fred’s home for art and music closes its doors

NEWTOWN DRUMS: Newtown based percussion group Sendam Orchestra play for the crowd.

WELLINGTON’S avant-garde music scene has been struck a blow by the closure of Fred’s, the rickety old Chinese Mission Hall that was a home to art and music for the last three years.

The Frederick Street Sound and Light Exploration Society held its last event on Saturday, with 13 bands playing throughout the day.

The art space opened its doors in June 2009, and has been the site of a number of recordings and gigs for Wellington’s experimental music scene.

Operator Daniel Beban says the gallery has had its time.

“It’s good that things move and change. Something else will crop up for sure, so I don’t think the closure of Fred’s will have too great an impact on the artistic community,” he says.

“In fact, it may have a positive outcome in that it forces

MOURNING FACES: To say goodbye visitors sign the Fred's guest book, with their face, and a photocopier.

people to look for other avenues for performances.”

Mr Beban was notified of a possible earthquake risk last December, and was told they were going to have to leave on February 24.

“It’s pretty obvious that it’s a risk,” he says. “It will probably be torn down because of the costs involved, and it only has partial historic status.” 

Wellington City Council spokesperson Grahame Armstrong says it is up to the building’s owners to decide what happens now.

“We are expecting to issue a yellow notice,” he says. “The notice will allow the owners 15 years in which to either strengthen or demolish the building so that it is no longer earthquake-prone.” 

The building is owned by Cheops Holdings, which has declined to comment. 

The 110-year-old Chinese Mission Hall is one of the last remnants of Wellington’s Chinatown, whose opium-dens and gambling caused fear among settlers.

Haining St, which the Mission Hall backs onto, was called “the most notorious slum area in New Zealand” by the Auckland Weekly News in 1911. 

MULTI TALENTED: Gerard Crewdson plays the tuba in front of the mural he helped paint on the side of Fred's.

 

ECLECTIC DRUMS: The weird and wonderful Sendan Orchestra perform their own material.

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is A Journalism Student at Whitireia in Wellington, New Zealand. His specialty areas are digital culture, politics and cyber-crime.
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