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New plans to strengthen ‘live’ music scene again

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Hunter councils could soon have the power to “dramatically strengthen” planning and trading laws to support “live” music venues in their LGAs.

It’s been announced Labor will invest $103 million into the industry over the next four years, as well as bring back lost venues, if it wins government at the NSW Election on 25 March.

According to new data from Liquor & Gaming NSW, the number of music locations has halved, with just 133 licensed sites remaining in NSW.

Swansea state MP Yasmin Catley said the move – allowing councils to change rules; involving trading hours, outdoor performance, and planning and sound regulations; to assist venues – would repair the damage, which occurred over the past decade under the Liberals-Nationals.

“We have a comprehensive plan to support our creative industries,” the Shadow Minister for the Hunter explained.

“A strategy that will set up our state for the long-term, backing the jobs of the future in the sector.

“After 15 years of lockouts and lockdowns, this is the moment when music in NSW can reach its potential.

“Most of the industry is based here… but we need to back our grassroots venues as well as festivals and artists for it to succeed.”

This includes establishing a contemporary music office, entitled Sound NSW.

It’ll sit within Create NSW and be modelled on Screen NSW and boast its own brand.

“It will oversee the development and delivery of a 10-year Contemporary Music Strategy,” Ms Catley said.

“NSW is currently the only state without such a policy.

“So, Sound NSW will focus on rebuilding skills across the sector.”

Bringing back lost venues

Labor’s music plan includes a commitment to dramatically strengthen planning provisions to protect existing venues and produce new venues. It will:

  • Strengthen support for venues, including longer trading hours and lower licence fees for music venues. Labor would establish a Cultural SEPP which would give councils the power to change rules to support music venues in their local area, including rules around trading hours, outdoor performance and planning and sound regulations
  • Harmonise liquor and planning approvals to make it easier to open new venues and include new incentives including floor space and density bonuses for developments that include new music venues
  • Examine expanding the heritage air space scheme to save and develop music venues
  • Provide funding of up to $250,000 to consider the need and develop a business case for permanent outdoor festival and concert infrastructure, central Sydney, Parramatta, western Sydney and regional NSW to support our festival and concert culture
  • Establish a $8 million Vivid Venues fund to support soundproofing, ventilation and video screen technology which will pay half the cost of venue upgrades including sound proofing for eligible venues
  • Labor would streamline sound complaint processes for venues. Seven NSW agencies currently regulate venue sound

A fresh start for NSW music

Labor proposes to:

  • Establish a $250 minimum performance fee for musicians where public money is being used to fund an event
  • Convert the office of the 24 Hour Economy Commissioner to a statutory appointment and expand the Night time economy strategy to Newcastle, the Central Coast and Wollongong
  • Make permanent the temporary rapid approvals for outdoor dining developed during COVID
  • Complete the state’s first Music Census, mapping music venues, performances and music infrastructure including across regional NSW for the first time

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