Friends Mary-Jane Liddicoat and Rowan Ainsworth were like many Canberrans – full time public servants. Their desire for a social catch up in bar frequented by fun, stimulating and quirky people was unfulfilled, so in under three months these entrepreneurs bought, renovated and opened their own venue, Polit Bar, in Manuka.
They brought with them the seconded talents of bartender Marti McGregor from Velluto, in Potts Point, who drew an instant fan base and helped the new bar succeed past the ‘four month flush’ and an unprecedented and deep trading trough in the ACT’s hospitality industry.
Mary-Jane said, “We started as we planned to stay - with lots of love, sweat and laughter. We have remained true to our vision and didn’t look to other venues to mimic, rather to contrast. We love what we do and we’ve carved out a niche - one-handed with an ice-pick.”
“We made connections with acts that suited the style of the bar we wanted to create. Burlesque, cabaret, comedy, blues and jazz seemed a natural fit alongside our baby grand piano. In fact, we’ve had some unusual musicians here. Very late one night a group of young professionals stood around our baby grand singing rousing choruses of the Liberal Party Song!
“We reached out to the community and asked groups and artists what they wanted out of a gig, pricing, audience, how they would like to present themselves. Then we collaborated on promotion and see how the audiences liked it. We achieved great buy-in and uncovered some fresh acts that, in some cases, had never been seen in Australia, for example Naked Girls Reading.
“We have also experimented with live music as a complement to theatrical acts. We often have live shows by music performers wanting to test their talents before a main cabaret act.” Mary-Jane said.
Polit Bar holds an APRA AMCOS Hotel’s Background Music System Licence, a Live/Artist Performance Licence and a Hotel’s Karaoke Licence.