The Gov is undoubtedly an institution within Adelaide, a longstanding and family-owned business that has been in operation for the past 27 years. Weathering the COVID-19 storm, The Gov is ready to welcome back a loyal following of devout live music supporters.
When the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions came into place, The Gov was left with no option but to close its doors to a loyal community. One of Adelaide’s leading live music venues—and lifeblood for local musicians—was facing a potentially bleak future.
“It was definitely a stressful time and we were branching into the unknown regarding when and if restrictions would lift,” says Sarah Martin, Publicist for The Gov.
“The operating costs for the hotel didn’t stop just because the doors were shut, there were still bills and staff to pay.
“The Gov is about people coming together, listening to live music and being in a shared environment of passionate music-goers, so we were faced with some big challenges when we had to temporarily shut down.”
Thankfully The Gov has come out the other side with more energy and enthusiasm than ever and is raring to re-launch its live music scene.
Now open with live music every night from Wednesday to Sunday, The Gov continues to be a casual and relaxed environment where family and friends can catch up with a bite to eat and hear the latest local tunes.
“The Gov caters for everyone – food, music, cold beer and warm fires… what’s not to love?” Sarah says.
Easing back into normality, the hotel is currently operating at a significantly lower capacity than usual, with ticketing capped at 150 seated patrons.
“We don’t want to jump the gun too soon, so we are easing back into things.
“Health and safety remains our top priority.
“We have lots of options at The Gov, such as a free front bar area which is a welcoming, family-friendly space with live music, as well as the restaurant with a newly constructed stage and a concert space out the back for ticketed events.
“We are very lucky to have the means to cater for sit-down meals and live music at the same time.
“It has allowed us to open our doors again under the current restrictions.”
The Gov has been owned and run by the Tonkin family since 1993, and with a big passion for local and international talent, the hotel is a top music venue in Adelaide. Siblings Jo, Mel and Richard now carry on The Gov’s legacy in their parents’ name and apply the strong family work ethic.
“The whole family has a love of live music—music is in the blood,” says Sarah.
“Brian and Vivien Tonkin, who took over ownership in 1993, have their own band and still love playing at The Gov.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, The Gov was overwhelmed with support from community members who gathered 10,000 signatures on a ‘change.org’ petition to save the beloved hotel from permanent closure.
“The Gov is an authentic venue with a lot of heart that gives back to the community and in return, the community have been amazing and shown us how valued we are,” says Sarah.
“We have had offers for help from musicians to photographers, it really has been a true blessing.”
The petition brought The Gov’s importance and value as a leader in the live music scene to the state government’s attention, securing a $300,000 grant to weather the peak of the pandemic.
“We are so thankful for the state government grant, as this has allowed us to keep local musicians employed and continue to support variety in local music—everything from the Adelaide Ukulele Appreciation Society to cover bands to Irish Jam sessions.
The City of Charles Sturt’s ‘live and local’ program was launched in May to enable venues within the council area to live-stream performances to eager audiences no matter their location.
“A real positive that has come out of this whole thing is that we’ve had the chance to lift our gaze and look at new opportunities to promote live music during the lockdown,” says Sarah.
“Live-streaming accessibility is something we have been able to look into more seriously and use to generate a ‘share in the moment experience’ for everyone, no matter where they are or their physical restrictions.”
The Gov has always been supportive of those with disabilities, previously running a monthly socially inclusive event for people living with a disability and their friends called Club Cool. The event enables those with a disability to access the venue who may otherwise not feel comfortable going into a large crowd.
Although currently on hold due to the current restrictions, The Gov is aiming to have this event back up and running by the end of the year.
For those that can get back out there, The Gov has a soulful ambiance and prides itself on being pokie free.
“There are no pokies at The Gov and only one screen in the front bar, so the focus is definitely on live music and good conversation,” Sarah says.
“We can’t wait until we can welcome interstate bands back to The Gov and we are particularly excited about the international artist we have booked for the start of 2021.
“However what’s most important right now is that we recognise and support local musicians to return to the stage.”
The Gov hosts free live music from Wednesday to Sunday, with meals from 5.00pm Wednesday-Friday, from 2pm Saturdays and Sunday Pizza from 2.30pm. More information about trading hours and what’s on each night can be found on The Gov’s website or Facebook page.
Photo credit – AK Photography. Supplied by The Gov.
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