A letter about the role Pride of our Footscray plays in Victoria’s music scene, forming part of Pride’s grants submission to Creative Victoria.
Exude Group is a music business that covers a range of duties such as venue bookings, artist management and tour management, to name a few. Exude Group was established in early 2018 and booked its first show at Pride of our Footscray Community Bar in late 2018 with great results all around. Everyone involved with Pride, including bar owner Mat O’Keefe, gave Exude such a great experience that we booked a few more shows, and a few weeks after that started a formal arrangement with Pride to book music every Friday night.
From day one, Exude and Pride’s primary focus has been to support the local music scene: we put our efforts into getting as many up-and-coming bands from all aspects and genres, marketing the gigs heavily on our end to ensure they would get as much exposure as possible and handling all the back-end work so the artists can focus on the music. Additionally, Pride and Exude have been able to foster a very respectable name in the local music scene within bands by giving back all door proceeds with no upfront booking fee, something that isn’t often seen in the area.
Exude understands the difficulties of being an upcoming artist or band, as we manage a few local ones such as Franco Cozzo, Redferrie, Stimpies, Arnt Mae and Lui Light. Over the last year alone, we’ve seen over 200 bands and artists perform their work on our stage, to hundreds of patrons every week. Pride’s confidence in Exude from the beginning has been the biggest push for our small business, giving me (Shaemus Corcoran) the ability to quit my day job working in warehousing to pursue the music stuff in a self-sustaining way that without Pride would never have been feasible. Moreover, the experience that we’ve been able to gain from Pride has led us to picking up our second-ever venue as booking agents for Kindred Studios, located in Yarraville just outside of Footscray (this is huge!)
Exude Group understands the reopening of live music in Melbourne is going to be a slow burn. That’s why we’ve prepared small and dynamic studio audience shows that will also be live-streamed for people at home. From May to June, Exude had four of these hybrid studio audience / live stream-styled shows booked and ready to go, with a bunch of pre-recorded interviews and montages of the bands set to perform. Though as conditions had become significantly worse, we had to pull the pin — we’ve arranged with the artists booked to ensure these shows will be the first thing to happen when restrictions loosen again.
Finally, I thought it would be important to get some thoughts from musicians that have performed on Pride’s stage multiple times, so I asked two local bands, Redferrie and Franco Cozzo for some feedback.
Pride has graciously hosted my band Redferrie a number of times without any issues or concerns. As a musician who has played at a vast amount of venues in both Melbourne and Sydney, I can proudly say the ‘Pride Of Our Footscray’ is truly one of the most genuine, catering, welcoming, and community-driven venues I have had the pleasure to play at. As for Mat, the backbone of Pride, I can not state any criticisms nor any minor faults. To an up and coming young artist like myself, Mat is a perfect person to have run a bar. It is evident that he cares greatly about his staff and patrons immensely. I have not had a single negative experience with Mat. Mat and Pride truly want a place for all in the community young or old to have fun and feel safe. This is evident by the way that Pride does not ask for a door cut and let the artist range on what should be priced upon entry. The security measures go above and beyond with Pride. Never do they cut corners when it comes to the safety of everyone inside the venue and leaving the venue.
Pride have hosted my band from day one. One of our first ever gigs was at Pride and it really set a high standard as to what we should expect from other venues. Being a new band, we found it hard to get gigs and not get ripped off, but Pride did the opposite; instead of trying to profit off our music, they only wanted to see us succeed and have a stage to play. I owe much of our success to Pride for supporting us from the very beginning and always having our best intentions at heart.
Since its opening in 2017, Pride has become one of the most eclectic, happening and important bars in Footscray, especially for live music and local artists alike. Live music in Footscray had taken a hit in the later part of the decade with venues, such as The Reverence and The Dancing Dog closing in 2018 and 2019 respectively, and thus local musicians and live artists such as myself were becoming increasingly deprived of places to perform.
Pride, however, has been an integral part in not only keeping the live entertainment industry alive in Footscray, but giving local artists from all walks of life, myself included, an opportunity to perform their music in front of a live audience. In the year prior to the pandemic, I personally watched Pride go from an obscure, unknown bar on Barkly street, growing exponentially to the most happening place in Footscray on the weekend, a big drawcard for a lot of patrons being it is currently the only bar in the centre of Footscray that currently hosts live music.
Thus as a musician local to the Footscray area, and a resident, I strongly believe Pride of our Footscray Bar is of utmost importance to keeping the live entertainment industry afloat in the area, and is deserving of financial support in order to see it through this challenging time.