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Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar Owners Hit Their Fundraising Target To Save The Tote

6 May 2023 | 2:21 pm | Mary Varvaris

"This has been a community gathering to make sure that a live music venue can live forever."

(Last Chance via Facebook, The Tote: Supplied)

The owners of The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar in Melbourne’s CBD, Shane Hilton and Leanne Chance, have passed their $6 million target to save The Tote today... but the fight isn't quite over yet.

With ten hours to go on the pair’s Pozible crowdfunding campaign to raise half the money needed to place their bid and save The Tote from becoming apartments, they’ve gone and bloody done it.

Hilton and Chance raised $3 million by hustling and going into debt with banks, family and pulling from their own savings. They then asked the Melbourne music-loving community to help out: the Pozible campaign had a $3 million target with an “all or nothing” fundraising approach, meaning that unless Shane and Leanne won their bid for The Tote, crowd funders wouldn’t be charged.

The target has been passed – at the time of writing, the Pozible crowdfunding campaign sits at $3,027,985. You can read Hilton and Chance's statement about the monumental achievement below.

It’s a remarkable achievement and showcases the power of music, the strength of community, and the resilience of two people who refused to allow another landmark cultural institution to be lost to soulless apartment buildings.

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Well, fuck… How the fuck do we express what we’re feeling at the moment? I don’t think we can. We just want to say...

Posted by The Last Chance Rock & Roll Bar on Friday, May 5, 2023

The fight isn't over yet, however, with The Tote's current owners taking to social media to congratulate Last Chance on their campaign, but to reiterate that the asking price is $6.65 million and will remain on the market until "an agreement can be reached". Whether or not that occurs, the position of the potential buyers is greatly enhanced by the successful crowd funding. 

Both The Tote and Last Chance have hosted numerous punk, rock, metal, and alternative acts like The White Stripes, Mudhoney, Violent Soho, Courtney Barnett, You Am I, Press Club, and Porpoise Spit at their venues; they’re essential grounds for up-and-coming artists to find their sounds. 

Hilton and Chance took over The Last Chance Rock And Roll Bar in 2016. They promise to protect The Tote by “putting the building in trust with so much red tape, caveats and legal protection that it can never be anything but a live music venue let alone sold ever again.” 

The couple’s aim is to give “the Tote to the bands of Melbourne forever. No fuckers gunna touch one of those posters on that tobacco stained ceiling.”

The current owners of The Tote, Sam Crupi and Jon Perring, announced that they were putting the venue up for sale in March.

“The Tote is up for Sale. The owners, just like Jacinda Ardern, have said ‘they have no petrol left in the tank’ after the stresses and strains of navigating The Tote through the pandemic,” the owners wrote on Instagram.

Crupi and Perring said, “We signed up to save the Tote once, not expecting to have to do it twice! Especially after we lost our business partner to cancer just before the COVID lockdowns started. It’s time for someone else to take it on with renewed enthusiasm and vision now COVID is behind us. We feel the timing [is] right.

The statement noted that the venue will continue to trade and run gigs until the ownership transition is complete. “Then it will be up to the new owners. This is likely to be around June. The Tote will accept booking up until this time. Any dates beyond this will have to be made with the consent of the future owners. The current Tote owners will actively facilitate a smooth transition.”

If you want to contribute some last-minute cash to the Pozible campaign, go here.