“A milestone”: Live biz responds to partial lifting of Sydney lockout laws
Australia’s live music sector has responded with delight to the announcement on the weekend that NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian will scrap 1.30 am lockout restrictions in the Sydney central business district at the end of the year.
However the laws will remain in the Kings Cross precinct.
“Community safety will always be a major focus for my government, but we need a balanced approach,” the premier said, adding the laws would return if violence rose again.
“It’s time to enhance Sydney’s night-life,” she went on to say. “Sydney is Australia’s only global city and we need our night-life to reflect that.”
Presumably, the premier has made the move before a joint NSW parliamentary inquiry on the Sydney nighttime economy has a deadline of September 30 to be tabled in Parliament.
Although the inquiry was set up to look at the wider nighttime economy, the NSW and national live sectors were able to get across the urgency of the lockouts to go, and could tender a large body of credible evidence and statistics on their effects.
“Although well-intentioned, the lockout laws as we know had a devastating effect I jobs and opportunities on venues and the live sector, especially on the electronic music dance sector.”
Wardle called on the state government to now work with local councils on finding new initiatives to build up their live sectors and music supporting venues.
The Keep Sydney Open Party, which began as a grassroots rally movement against the lockouts, called the premier’s decision “a huge moment”.
It added: “There are still many details that are unclear.
“Why is Kings Cross left out? What about Oxford Street? When are closing times?
“Either way, we will all need to pitch in to rebuild our city’s nightlife, live music scene and culture from this point on”.
Oxford Art Factory owner Mark Gerber told the ABC it was the first step to Sydney’s rebirth.
“[It felt] like living in East Berlin under Stassi control, not in sunny old Sydney town,” he said. “Let’s do this Sydney … I’m overjoyed.”
The lockout issue was such a passionate one – on both sides — that the inquiry drew an unexpected 800 submissions.
City of Sydney’s testimony, citing APRA AMCOS analysis of licensing fees take-up, that of the 22 main purpose music venues in its precinct, only eleven now remained.
The Ivy said its trade was down 53% since 2014, the Beauchamp by 50% and the Hollywood Hotel by 35%.
Shadow minister for music and the nighttime economy, John Graham, who used the phrase “Sydney’s music venue crisis” noted, “Alarmingly, it is the mid-sized venues that we are losing. These are the venues most likely to feature local and emerging new acts and more affordable concerts for audiences.”
Emily Collins, managing director of MusicNSW told the inquiry that the “significant consequences of the knee jerk approach to regulation” were that “business confidence has been decimated, cultural confidence is dismally low, and the nighttime economy is underperforming by $16 billion.”
A forthcoming report by MusicNSW showed that 85% reckoned the lockouts impacted their careers, 75% found gig numbers sank, and 40% saw their income drop.