News November 19, 2017

ACT Budget: lower fees for music venues, major events fund established

ACT Budget: lower fees for music venues, major events fund established

Music venues were one of the winners of yesterday’s ACT Budget.

As part of a $5.34 million nightlife package, small and low-risk venues with a capacity of 150 or less, and which close by 2am, will have their licensing fees reduced by 25% to encourage more of these to start.

“This Budget will also do more to support local venues across Canberra,” said Arts Minister Gordon Ramsay.

“We have been listening to what the industry wants, and our reforms will help encourage a more vibrant nightlife while creating even more jobs.”

The feedback that the ACT Government got was that people wanted more smaller venues to start and thrive because they are safer and add to the diversity of Canberra’s nightlife.

Of the money allocated for the nightlife package, $4.8 million will go towards six new police officers to patrol nightlife precincts and tackle alcohol-related violence in the city.

Industry sources that TMN spoke to post-Budget applauded the moves, especially the 25% drop in fees as savings could be used by venues for marketing or staff training.

As of March 2017, the ACT had 425 “on” licences covering nightclubs bars and restaurants. The number of liquor licences issued in Canberra was up 9.8% in four years.

In 2015, the ACT Government commissioned a new live music action plan called Cool Little Capital, in conjunction with Music ACT and the national Live Music Office, looking at ways to strengthen the territory’s live music sector.

John Wardle, Director of the Live Music Office, told TMN, “It’s great to see the ACT Government responding to the issues raised in Cool Little Capital.

“We look forward to working with them to help build our live music scene.”

Wardle said that last year, the ACT Government updated that plan with a consultation paper called Urban Sounds which looked at solutions for land use conflict in Canberra and discussed the possibility of introducing entertainment precincts to offset noise complaints.

He added, “We look forward to seeing this work delivering its potential for providing sustainable live music and performance jobs and opportunities in the ACT night economy.” 

The 2017 budget also sets up a new Major Events Fund is also being set up to attract more major entertainment, sports and cultural events to the ACT. 

The Government has not expanded on what initiatives it has.

But similar initiatives in other states have led to funding for music festivals and major music events which have in turn generated increased number of tourists and an economic boost of millions of dollars.

As part of this attempt to draw events and related sponsorship to Canberra and the ACT, the Government has also committed $2 million to upgrade the ageing 25,000-capacity Bruce Stadium. 

GIO Stadium, Exhibition Park and Manuka Oval will also be improved.

Venues hosting arts across the territory will receive $16.3 million over four years,

Of that, $15 million will go towards the stage two of the upgrade of the Belconnen Arts Centre. It includes a new 400-seat theatre. 

More than $800,000 will be shared between five arts centres over the next four years to help cover the cost of upgrades to the Ainslie and Gorman Arts Centres, Strathnairn, Tuggeranong Arts Centre and Watson Arts Centre.

The Government will also undertake community consultation on the current performing arts capacity in the Territory, including the Canberra Theatre, to help identify what infrastructure may be required into the future.

The Budget contains a $21.6 million package for the Arts over four years, with funds included for the Art, Not Apart festival and $500,000 for arts events.

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