Live Music Taskforce gets its first gig

In response to my Lord Mayoral Minute in October some of Australia's leading music industry experts have teamed-up with the City of Sydney.

Our Live Music and Performance Taskforce met for the first time today to look at ways of reviving Sydney's live music scene.

I remember as an adolescent removing the louvres from my bedroom window at Gordon to escape for great nights with friends listening to jazz at the El Rocco, just off William Street in Kings Cross, and live music is still the lure that attracts so many people to this city.

One of my major goals when pushing for small bars - along with John Wardle from Raise the Bar, who has agreed to chair this Taskforce - was a renaissance of our live music scene. Now I'm looking for new ways to encourage more music and performance.

A 2011 Ernst and Young report revealed that live music contributes more than $1.2 billion to the Australian economy, with NSW providing almost a third of the total.

However, poker machines and large sports screens in pubs, increased costs and increased competition from other forms of entertainment have all increased the pressure on live venues.

Over the past decade, there has been a large increase in residential living in parts of the city that were traditionally home to live entertainment. As a Council, we must balance everyone's needs. To do that, we need to understand the issues.

We must ask where are local and state government policies working well and where are they failing? How have other cities dealt with these challenges well, particularly managing the potential conflict between noise and residents?

Between now and July, this Live Music Task Force will look at how to help venue operators negotiate the approvals process and manage noise impacts; ways to open up new and unconventional spaces to performance; and different ways to support entrepreneurs and performers.

There is a real mine of expertise, knowledge and experience in this taskforce. The members are:

John Wardle, a musician, teacher and entertainment policy activist who helped establish Sydney's small bar scene and end the NSW Government's restrictive Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) regulations will chair the task force;

Jonathan Zwartz, one of Australia's leading jazz musicians and organiser of the renowned Starfish Club, who has played bass with Australian artists such as Renee Geyer and James Morrison and international stars such as Wynton Marsalis;

Dr Ianto Ware, the Federal Government's newly appointed National Live Music Coordinator for Sounds Australia;

Kerri Glasscock, co-founder of the original underground music and performance space 505 in Surry Hills;

Associate Professor Shane Homan, author, Monash University teacher, and one of Australia's leading authorities on live music regulation;

Dean Ormston, Deputy Chair of the Music Council of Australia and Head of Corporate Services at the Australasian Performing Rights Association;

Dan Zilber, General Manager of Music for FBi Radio 94.5 has been music director of the community station since its foundation in 2003, responsible for all music content across all its platforms including FBi Social, its live music venue;

Dr Kate Shaw, University of Melbourne academic and alternative cultures expert who helped lead the 'Save the Espy' campaign to protect the famous Melbourne rock venue;

Alex Masso, manager of the Music Council of Australia's Music in Communities Network;

Paul Nicolaou, Chief Executive of the Australian Hotel Association (NSW); and

Frank Henry, a lead officer in the development of Brisbane City Council's Fortitude Valley Harmony Plan, which is considered a landmark example of support for live music by a capital city government.


I look forward to seeing the Taskforce's recommendations in July.

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