Live Music & Live Performance Taskforce

(11am, Friday 8 February 2013, Reception Room, Sydney Town Hall)

Hello, everyone, welcome to this inaugural meeting. Thank you all for agreeing to join our Live Music and Live Performance Taskforce.

I'd like firstly to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of our land, and to pay my respects to their Elders. I also acknowledge the people of 200 nations who live in our City.

And a special thank you to John Wardle for agreeing to chair this task force.

As the strategist behind the Raise the Bar campaign, he's already made a significant contribution to a livelier, more diverse city.

I hope this task force will continue that work.

When I recommended its establishment last October, I quoted Paul Kelly's words to a 2010 Save Live Australian Music rally.

He said: "You don't learn how to write a song in school. You can't do a TAFE course on how to play in front of an audience. [These venues] were my universities…"

All of you will know that. Live music remains Australia's most popular live performance activity - according to a 2011 Ernst & Young study, it accumulated a staggering 48 million attendances across the country in 2009-10.

It provides employment and makes a significant financial contribution to the Australian economy - $1.2 billion, according to that same study, with NSW the largest contributor at 32 per cent.

Like any other industry, it needs places to operate - what Neil Armfield called the "seedbeds of culture".

And so we have consciously set out to expand opportunities for creative people - including emerging artists - to work in the City.

We've championed small bars as venues for performers and provided spaces for new creative enterprises in Oxford Street, William Street, Woolloomooloo and Redfern.

We're restoring the Burton Street Tabernacle as the new Eternity Playhouse, and keeping the Darlinghurst Theatre as a performance space.

There's more we can do, and we are looking to you to help us build a rich and diverse entertainment culture in Sydney - one that covers the gamut of music of all types, comedy, cabaret, small theatre, revue, literary evenings, forums - the possibilities are wide open.

Helping achieve a more diverse nightlife was one reason why I proposed that Council establish this Taskforce. Another is the recognition that live music is a major form of entertainment for young people in the City, and that there are many young musicians looking for opportunities to perform.

It is important that we preserve and expand this scene, and create new opportunities.

I hope one of the first tasks of this Taskforce is to decide how you will involve and engage people in the youth music scene in your work.

There is a real mine of expertise, knowledge and experience in this task force. I hope you'll be bold and forthright in your recommendations.

Thank you again for agreeing to help us with building this new culture. I look forward to your recommendations.