MELBOURNE, AUS (CelebrityAccess) – Hillsong Church has reached an agreement with Live Nation (LN), allowing the global live music entertainment giant to take over the lease of one of Australia’s most beloved venues, Melbourne’s Festival Hall.
As reported by The Herald Sun, the Festival Hall will return as a full-time live music venue after LN secured the multi-year lease.
The Australian megachurch, which left the Australian Christian Churches organization in 2018 to become an autonomous denomination secured the venue for $23M in 2020, after long and tedious negotiation sessions – which took over a year.
Hillsong stated at the time they would continue to run the Festival Hall as a “community venue.” “It has served the people of this city in different events over the years and it’s going to continue to do that. We just get to be the church that purchases it and continues to serve, but also gets to see it be the house of God on Sundays,” said Hillsong pastors Tim and Nicola Douglass at the time.
However, under the ownership of the church, it has left a sizeable hole in the music market of that area, pushing shows to Margaret Court Arena.
LN will now take ownership and wants to turn the iconic venue which has hosted Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Frank Sinatra, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and more back to its former live music glory. The promoter plans several upgrades to the 5,000-capacity venue.
It was just revealed last week Australia’s charities regulator is investigating the Hillsong organization over allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, as reported by The Daily Beast.
The claims were allegedly passed from a whistleblower to Aussie lawmaker Andrew Wilkie, who then made them public under parliamentary privilege rules. The allegations say the church used funds from Australia’s COVID wage subsidy program to buy the Festival Hall, and allege Hillsong’s founder, Brian Houston, used church donations to pay for nicer hotel quarantine accommodations during the pandemic.
Hillsong has since denied those allegations.