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USU shutters Manning Bar

The iconic bar is the latest casualty in a dying campus life.

A photo of the front of Manning Building at the University of Sydney on a sunny day Manning Bar has seen a drop in student numbers over the last decade.

Campus icon Manning Bar will end day trade this semester, only operating for events that require the use of the bar. During the day, the bar will become a bookable space for club events and a study space during exams.

The University of Sydney Union (USU) Board voted unanimously in favour of the closure in an in camera meeting on 30 October 2019.

USU President Connor Wherrett told Honi that the decision was a response to clubs’ calls for more event spaces and the significant drop in student use of the bar over the past year. 

The change in trading hours raises questions for the job security of USU bar staff. In an email from management, staff were told that due to the closure “there will be less Monday – Friday shifts”, though management also noted that Manning’s “gig calendar is looking quite promising…which should help ease that pressure for those of you wanting 1-2 shifts a week”.

Many have noted Manning’s decline from the centre of student life at the University of Sydney to a ghost-town. In 2016 Honi wrote that “far from the hub it once was, these days Manning hardly approaches capacity for even its most popular events. Lunchtimes aren’t nearly as packed as they used to be, and party organisers scramble to attract students.” 

Despite several half-hearted attempts by the University of Sydney Union (USU) to revive the venue, including the introduction of new grill “Clucky’s” and “Manning Social” in the Manning foodcourt (which has also now closed), Manning Bar has waned in popularity over the years. Rumours that the USU was considering renovating the bar have been circulating for at least the last decade, to no avail.

Last year, the USU reported that Manning Bar and Hermann’s operated at a combined loss of $245,000 in 2018.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to specify that the USU Board’s vote to close Manning Bar was unanimous. Marie Leech was not present at the meeting.

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