Fast Facts

Practical actions for a resurgent live music scene

The City of Sydney will offer grant funding and streamlined planning for live music venues as part of a series of measures to encourage more venues to host performances and give Sydneysiders more options for a night out.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the new grant funding programs would be dedicated to new and existing live music and performance venues, live music programming, night time venue safety initiatives and other projects that help diversify Sydney’s late night economy.

The planning process for venues that want to introduce or increase their live music or performance programming will be streamlined, with expert planners on hand to assist in the application and assessment process.

And the City will soon release a discussion paper on entertainment noise that invites industry and community feedback on proposed changes to planning controls to help plan for and protect live music venues, and how the City manages noise complaints.

These initiatives, which will be presented to Council later in 2017, are the latest from the City’s Live Music and Performance Action Plan.

Since launching the plan in 2014, the City has delivered a comprehensive program of support to the sector, ranging from regulatory reform to grant funding and free rehearsal space for budding musicians.

The Lord Mayor said the City was committed to supporting live music in local venues and helping performers thrive in challenging times.

“Sydney has a strong community of artists, performers and musicians, with fantastic venues run by extremely dedicated people, and a wonderful and increasingly vocal community of fans.

“Live music is hugely important to Sydney, with recent research commissioned by the City identifying its value to the community at $353 million during last year alone.

“We’re using every lever at our disposal to encourage more live music and performance, reduce unnecessary red tape and advocate for the regulatory reform needed for a strong and successful live music and performance sector.

“We’re committed to supporting this important sector by working directly with venues and industry organisations, and delivering on the commitments we made in our Live Music and Performance Action Plan.”

Since the plan’s adoption in 2014, 29 actions have been implemented, with 20 more in progress.

In addition to the new projects announced, other initiatives delivered or currently underway include:

  • A review of the City’s busking policy to further encourage and support busking and street performance
  • $2.77 million in small grants (each under $100,000) to live music and performance projects since July 2014
  • One-on-one support to over 150 live music and performance businesses and organisations
  • Matched funding for venues to access acoustic advice
  • Free rehearsal spaces for students, with more than 1,800 bookings across more than 30 City-owned venues
  • Access to affordable recording facilities at Redfern Community Centre
  • Housing for eight musicians and performers in City owned live/work spaces
  • Annual Business 101 seminars targeted to the live music industry
  • ‘Amplify’, a targeted live music programming advisory service for businesses, in partnership with the Live Music Office, MusicNSW and Inner West Council
  • Funding for all ages events, in partnership with MusicNSW
  • More than 1,900 free event listings of live music and performances of the City’s What’s On website since its launch in September 2015
  • Industry development forums to facilitate the establishment of a live music industry business chamber
  • Research into the value of live music in the City of Sydney local government area, which found live music contributed $353 million to the local community in 2016 alone.

Kerri Glasscock, Sydney practitioner and Festival Director and CEO of the Sydney Fringe Festival, said: “Despite, and often in spite of the tough conditions faced by Sydney’s cultural community, there remains a vibrant, talented and exciting scene that stands strong, who are looking forward to feeling the pressure ease with a number of the projects the City of Sydney has been working on,” Ms Glasscock said.

“I have followed many of the key projects and recommendations in the Live Music and Performance Action Plan from inception to their current stage. This is complex work that takes time and involves many stakeholders in the community. As Sydney creatives, we are fortunate to have a city council that places culture at the forefront of planning, who are willing to chip away at the big issues.

“There is unfortunately no silver bullet for the myriad issues facing the creative sector in Sydney – it’s no secret the lockouts have hurt us, the regulatory restrictions are often detrimental, and we have in the past lacked a united front – but there is progress being made and the tide is slowly turning. It’s terrific to see more pieces of the very complex puzzle gain momentum in this update.”

Emily Collins, Managing Director of MusicNSW, said: “The introduction of lockout laws have hit Sydney’s music community hard, but these challenges have also galvanised the industry and brought a diverse range of groups together to start working on solutions.

“MusicNSW is leading the establishment of an industry-led Chamber of Commerce for music businesses in Sydney and we’ll be launching this project soon. The City of Sydney’s support has been instrumental in this process.”

John Wardle, Live Music Office Director and former Chair of the City of Sydney Live Music and Performance Taskforce, said: “It’s important to recognise the City’s financial investment of $2.77 million in small grants directly to live music and performance projects, as well as its continuing commitment to better regulation and collaborative marketing.

“Positive messaging is so important in supporting the great artists and city venues since the lockouts came in, a simpler approvals process will cut red tape for venues, whilst setting the ground rules for evening economy areas in planning controls will reduce land use conflict.

“The Live Music Office welcomes the progress the City has made so far and looks forward to seeing further progress during 2017.”

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