Established in 2014, The Chippo Darwin is an arts and cultural space in an industrial area of Darwin that opens Fridays and Saturdays.
Set up by Rod and Renee Fitzgerald to fill a gap in the social fabric and creative ecosystem in Darwin, the venue has a continuing special liquor licence that are available in the NT for community clubs.
As a ground floor former printing factory, the Chippo is a pre cyclone buiding. The spaces are low tech, and present live music, stand up comedy, and fringe events.
Mid week visual art exhibitions are planned, with the walls already adorned with paintings by local artists. Disabled facilities works are underway. In May 2015 Birds of Tokyo set up at The Chippo for closed house recording and rehearsal space for the Bass In the Grass festival presented by NT Major Events. The Territory has a median age of 31.2 (the lowest of any Australian state or territory) and apart from the MusicNT rehearsal room (singular), the 2 Chippo rooms are the only other public rehearsal rooms in the Top End.
On Monday 15 June 2015 The Chippo received a visit from NT Fire & Rescue Services to issue an order to cease trade due to perceived non-compliance with building regulations.
The Chippo has consent for the use of land for live music and comedy and a liquor licence as well as an approved DA.
The position of Fire Services is that The Chippo is required to be 9B compliant for the purposes of the National Construction Code.
Licensing don’t have a problem with The Chippo trading. To date there have been no amenity complaints, or interaction with police or council. 2 months worth of programs have been cancelled including Fringe events.
The way forward for The Chippo is tricky. With bad communication between government departments, a lack of clarity around process – A chicken and egg situation between Lands and Planning, Licensing and Fire Services. The BCA is a flexible code! Certifiers have plenty of opportunity within the provisions to assess buildings performance for structural integrity and safety that don’t require the gold plated deemed to satisfy BCA specification – intended as a guide and not a prescriptive obligation. Facing a similar situation in Canberra, Braddon arts and cultural venue The Chop Shop was assisted by the Chief Ministers Office with support from the ACT Planning and Land Authority that found alternative solutions to the BCA.
There is another way here, with NSW and Victoria and soon to be South Australia introducing changes to building regulations to address this issue. At 440 sq/m, The Chippo would be well inside the Victorian regulation requirements. Read the Live Music Office Live Music Venues and the Building Code of Australia Issues Paper.
Just like the Chop Shop in Canberra, If the Chippo was in NSW or Victoria – and soon to be South Australia, it would likely be open tonight, and the Darwin Fringe Festival would have a venue.
Give Rod and Renee Fitzgerald your support.