AFTER 13 years in South Melbourne, the cabaret/comedy venue The Butterfly Club is moving to the CBD - but those familiar with the wackily decorated space needn't fear a loss of character.
Owner Simone Pulga says the club is moving from its iconic, heritage-listed Bank Street site to a ''bigger and better'' building at 256 Collins Street due to soaring rent.
''The new place is brilliant, it looks like it was built by a drunk architect,'' he says. ''You have to go to level two before you get to level one, there's a set of concrete steps that lead to nowhere, and there's a seven-metre flagpole at the top.''
Pulga says rent has risen 92 per cent over the past 10 years. So a few months ago he began researching the rents of similar properties and found a more affordable home. ''What we are paying currently in South Melbourne we won't have to pay until 2016 at Collins Street.''
The South Melbourne venue claims to have the largest collection of kitsch art in Australia. This collection will be brought across from South Melbourne in February to deck out the new venue in a move that will cost about $130,000.
The club is calling on the public to donate $20,000 to this cost through a fund-raising program hosted on crowd-funding website Pozible. Through the campaign, supporters can buy artist rewards - exclusive access to performances by artists ''who call the club home'', such as Sammy J performing with his puppet Randy in your home (which sold for $1000 within an hour of the page being launched).
Kitsch for Cash is the club's take on the ''buy a brick'' fund-raising program, in which supporters can ''adopt'' a piece of artwork to ensure it is moved safely.
The Butterfly Club is one of Melbourne's more accessible for emerging performers in that artists are not charged a hire fee. ''We share space with performers and split the income at the end of the show - performers can put a show on without spending a cent,'' says Pulga.
Entertainers such as Tim Minchin and Eddie Perfect launched their careers at the club, and Sammy J performed his first solo season there in 2006, where he introduced Randy.
''I was a complete newcomer when I was asked to perform there, it was a terrifying thought,'' he recalls. ''They gave me a room and a timeslot, and from there it grew and grew. The Butterfly Club family is a very, very fine one to be part of, and they are very welcoming to new artists.''
The club will host a final fund-raising gala at a secret location on February 8, followed by an after-party at Bank Street. To make a donation or buy gala tickets, visit pozible.com/thebutterflyclub.