News October 5, 2016

Five councils green-light micro-festivals for Western Sydney

Poppy Reid
Five councils green-light micro-festivals for Western Sydney

Western Sydney is set to become a contemporary music hub after five of the region’s Councils partnered with the Live Music Office for the Western Sydney Live and Local Strategic Initiative.

Five Western Sydney locations, Blacktown, Camden, Fairfield, Parramatta and Wollondilly, will host family-friendly micro music festivals, supported by $150,000 from Arts NSW. 

The funding, part of the four-year $7.5m election commitment to arts and culture in Western Sydney, will enable local musicians to perform at unique live spaces and venues for free. The local areas include shops, cafes, parks, malls, restaurants, clubs and hotels.

100% of the funding will go to local musicians, venues, and technicians working on the events.

The Live Music Office will coordinate the events using its Live and Local model, which has already seen two four-hour, multi-venue live music events staged in local communities. They were Sydney Fringe Festival in Surry Hills and Erskineville and Kings Cross Ignite.

The announcement follows the Live Music Office’s call for expressions of interest in May from Western Sydney’s 12 councils to stage Live and Local events. The five Councils currently involved have been given an operation manual, contract templates, and budget plans, among other tools.

The interest generated from councils has incited the NSW Government to provide an additional $100,000 for another round next year, to include the Councils that missed out this time. 

Speaking to TMN, Live Music Office Policy Director, John Wardle said: “Over the next 18 months we are going to see a whole series of contemporary music events now happening all over Western Sydney.

“This is great news for local artists, venues, audiences and the cultural development of the region, as local Councils in Western Sydney rapidly build capacity and connections with the music industry.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts Troy Grant said: “The Live and Local initiative is about the local community working together to create vibrant and innovative entertainment for everyone to enjoy.

“For example, Blacktown City Council will work with local businesses to present a curated music series inside a local restaurant or outside a café.”

Wardle told TMN the Western Sydney Live and Local Strategic Initiative is already developing connections with local government and the music sector.

“Through the application process these Councils have thought deeply about their local situation, with many of them considering what else they can do to support these events and develop a thriving music scene,” Wardle said. “These include advisory groups for example, as well as industry education and better regulatory support.” 

It could be said NSW’s music sector is set to undergo a major shake-up. Preceding Arts NSW’s continued support for the initiative in Western Sydney, a Sydney Night-time Economy Roundtable tabled a 25-point action plan in August to boost Sydney’s status as a global city which supports art and culture. The Roundtable is comprised of representatives from health, police, residents groups, St Vincent’s Hospital, live music, the hospitality sector, the liquor industry, transport, small business, planning, and local and state governments.

Last month, the review of the NSW lockout laws by retired Justice Hon. Ian Callinan AC proved hopeful. As reported by TMN, Callinan proposed to extend the 1.30am lockout and 3am last drinks laws for genuine live venues by 30 minutes, to 2am and 3.30am, respectively.

“The wheels are now definitely turning for the music sector in NSW,” said Wardle. 

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