Live Music will play on

This week the City's Cultural Committee voted unanimously to support our new Live Music and Performance Action Plan, which includes nearly 60 ways we can help revive live music in Sydney.

One of my reasons for supporting small bars - along with John Wardle, chair of our Taskforce as well as co-director of the National Live Music Office - was to create a renaissance of our live music scene.

Small bars have transformed our city, but more needs to be done to support and promote live music. While Sydney used to enjoy a reputation for extraordinary live performers and bands, venues are now under increasing pressure. The industry was hit hard in the 90's by regulatory and legislative changes and the impact of poker machines.

It's why I asked Council in 2012 to support my plan to set up a Live Music and Performance Taskforce to research, consult and develop a plan on how the City could support the revival of live music in Sydney.

I want to thank the 11 Taskforce members for their passion and excellent work. Their work was the most thorough investigation into live music ever produced in Australia.

The actions in the Plan are wide ranging, from encouraging pop-up gigs in local venues to reducing red tape so emerging performers can showcase their talents.

We're already working to open our Town Halls and community centres so that young people have space to practice. Soon we'll be changing parking restrictions to make sure musicians can get their gear in and out of venues more easily. We'll be developing a process to help artists hold performances in non-traditional spaces. And we'll be working with the NSW and Australian Governments to make changes to licensing laws, funding and visa restrictions on visiting artists.

Other actions in the plan with the potential to boost live music in Sydney include:

  • Providing affordable space in City-owned properties for start-ups that support the local live music and performance sector, including instrument makers, costume designers and independent record sellers;
  • Supporting the Australian pilot of a 'gig buddies' program which pairs people living with a disability with local music enthusiasts to make it easier for them to attend live music performances;
  • Lobbying the NSW Government to create a live music and performance development fund to support industry projects, funded by gaming revenue;
  • Contributing $20,000 towards the Live & Local campaign, to be run by APRA|AMCOS, which will encourage local venues to introduce live music programming into their business; and
  • Developing strategies to proactively support and promote buskers to new audiences.

Last night the Committee heard from many enthusiastic supporters of the Action Plan. Wayne Harrison, former Artistic Director of the Sydney Theatre Company, said the Plan would unlock the potential for Sydney to follow exciting overseas trends like immersive theatre, where performers take over unused spaces.

Council will consider the Live Music and Performance Action Plan on Monday night.

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