opinion Opinion March 22, 2019

Op-Ed: Saturday’s NSW election no easy run for music, and a quick guide to party promises

Op-Ed: Saturday’s NSW election no easy run for music, and a quick guide to party promises

Never before has music featured so prominently in an election campaign.

Tomorrow (March 23) NSW residents, including members of the local music industry and the broader community that supports us, will head to the polls to vote.

In recent weeks, industry associations, promoters and artists have done a stellar job bringing music to the forefront of voters’ attention.

Live Performance Australia, the Australian Festival Association, Music NSW, APRA AMCOS and the Live Music Office – acting as a coalition – drove a remarkable campaign to educate us on the threat at hand.

But it’s not going to be an easy road. Not everyone is with us.

Talking to TMN this morning, concert promoter Michael Chugg remains optimistic.

“Hopefully, as well as the industry voting for the music, a lot of the general public understand our worries and will stand with us.”

But like any industry, we live and work in a bubble.

Gladys Berejiklian has a lot to answer for, but she also has the support of a liberal-leaning state.

When Pauline Hanson first came to power, she argued that all arts funding should be scrapped and the money given to farmers.

Socialist Alliance, One Nation, Shooters & Fishers, Animal Justice, Advance Australia, Liberal Democrats, Voluntary Euthanasia, Christian Democrats and Small Business all earn zero for music-related policies.

Sydney’s nightlife, music festivals, arts organisations and, ultimately, music fans from both NSW and across the country who visit the state, have the most to lose.

This is your “last drinks” call to arms.

When you arrive at your local polling booth on Saturday, .

TMN looked at the key policy proposals from Labor, Liberal-National Coalition, Greens and Keep Sydney Open.

Here’s everything you need to know:


Under Michael Daley’s Labor

A total of $35 million over four years to support contemporary music in NSW

Removal of all restrictions on live performances in the state

A plan for contemporary music to be released within first 100 days in office

$1.3 million in rebuilding the regional touring circuit, including the extension of finding for Live and Local

$1 million to support community radio

The appointment of a minister for music

A live music census every two years to establish the number of venues, musicians and performances that take place at any given time in NSW

One-stop shops for noise complaints and planning and liquor approvals for music venues

A senior contemporary music expert employed by Create NSW

Reinstate multi-year festival license approvals for event organisers with an established record as well as streamlining festival new license processes

Funding programs such as:

A $5.1 million Band Aid program to help musicians records and tour regionally and nationally, and for industry professional development

A $1.3 million Music Passport program to help musicians from NSW to tour internationally

$3 million in grants for live music venues for promotion, soundproofing and infrastructure

$1.6 million to develop “Music Communities” in Sydney’s CBD and Inner West, Western Sydney, South Western Sydney, Newcastle and the Hunter Region, The Illawarra, The North Coast and Tamworth

A new $500 million cultural institution in Western Sydney to equal the Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of NSW

Set up a $100 million Western Sydney Cultural Fund to reflect the region’s indigenous and multicultural mix.

Review all arts funding grants decided on by arts minister Don Harwin in the last two years


Under Gladys Berejiklian’s Liberal-National Coalition

$1 million Music Now program to support NSW musicians gig more or present new works, encourage venues to support more live music, increase paid opportunities for musicians, funding of up to $40,000 for one-off music events by promoters to stage across the state, and “increase the sustainability of the contemporary music sector”

$228 million renovations of the Concert Hall at the Sydney Opera House starting next year, with new acoustics to distribute the sound better, a lower stage for better views for the audience, an upgrade to the surround sound system and more wheelchair access

A 50% increase in spending in Regional Arts Touring funding to get more music acts touring the bush, as well as artforms as performing arts, visual arts, literature, history, museums and multi-arts

Revitalisation of theatres across the state

Leasing the Theatre Royal for 45 years to ensure more musicals are attracted to NSW, to provide work for musicians, actors and technicians

More funding for music and arts organisations in Western Sydney


Under David Shoebridge’s Greens

Removal of “draconian” regulations that restrict creative ventures and live music festivals and venues

Abolish Sydney’s lockout laws

Support for a dedicated minister for arts, culture, music and night time economy

A substantial increase in funding and support for the arts in NSW including ensuring that contributions from development approvals are used support arts at the local level

Support for Labor’s commitment of $35 million to contemporary music in NSW

Identify new places for emerging musicians to play in, and build up the state’s regional touring circuit

Move for a parliamentary inquiry into the way in which decisions are made regarding the granting of arts and cultural funding programs

Support for increased NSW government funding of music festivals, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander arts

Accessible and affordable music education, including in the regions, to ensure there is better alignment of educational outcomes and industry needs for community radio, arts workers and musicians, and small and medium arts organisations at the local and regional levels


Keep Sydney Open

Repeal the lockout laws and allow 24-hour trading for well-run venues

Develop and invest in innovative, evidence-based late-night public health and safety strategies that encourage a positive nightlife

24-hour public transport

Initiate a public study into a statewide 24-hour transport network strategy incorporating increased taxi, rideshare, bike-sharing schemes and emerging technologies

Diversify late-night activity be encouraging extended trading for food, retail and entertainment vendors

Provide tax offsets and lower fees for live music venues to increase investment in artists and performance

Roll back the takeaway liquor curfew to midnight and replace with a sensible licensing regime similar to Victoria

End the ban on new nightclubs by removing the liquor licence freeze

Reform ‘move-on’ laws so that violent people are taken off the street

Establish an independent ‘Office of the Night’ to provide accountability for stakeholders of the night-time economy and a ministry of culture, music and nightlife for a seat in Cabinet

Conduct a review of alcohol-free zones and restrictions on serving alcohol outdoors and pare back regulations in areas of low risk

Push the incoming Premier to make arts, culture and nightlife a priority for NSW over the next four years

Invest $100 million into contemporary music and performance over four years. Quadruple Victoria’s investment

Dedicate $10 million to a targeted marketing and promotion campaign to rebuild confidence in the state’s nightlife and cultural offering

Introduce regular cultural stakeholder roundtables to foster stronger working relationships between local businesses, police and residents

Launch a ‘Culture Pass’ similar to New York’s with free access (up to $250 per person, per year) to live music, performance, theatre, galleries and other cultural events and institutions for young people aged 18-24

Allocate $10 million to establish a ‘Street Party Fund’ to activate outdoor public spaces

Work collaboratively with city councils to extend trading hours of businesses integral to the night-time economy

Increase funding to startups and established small businesses to encourage increased employment within the creative industries

Repeal the Berejiklian Government’s new licenses regulations for festivals

Initiate a festival stakeholder roundtable between industry, emergency services and policymakers to create smarter and informed risk management strategies

Fund the development and implementation of emergency services and counter-terrorism strategies for sport, festivals and cultural events

Bring the user-pays police to attendee ratio at festivals in line with other states.

Introduce harm minimisation programs for festivals covering pill testing, amnesty bins, drug education, rovers, health services and water stations

Replace fines and criminal penalties for possession of drugs for personal use with diversion notices to educational and treatment programs

Abolish the sniffer dog program and redirect the savings to pill testing and other harm minimisation strategies

Roll-back police strip search powers

Restore funding for Sydney Festival’s ‘Festival First Night’

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