The lockout laws were devastating for so many. They decimated Sydney’s nightlife and creative, entertainment and hospitality sectors were hit the hardest. Almost a decade later we’re still trying to rebuild our night time economy.

NSW Labor will invest $103 million in NSW’s contemporary music scene as well as committing to bringing back lost music venues over the next four years, to repair the damage from a decade of venue closures under the NSW Liberals.

If elected, over the next four Labor will invest $103 million to support contemporary music. This includes establishing a contemporary music office, Sound NSW, to work with industry and support the ongoing development of contemporary music in NSW.

Sound NSW will sit within Create NSW; it will be modelled on Screen NSW and have its own board.

At present, NSW is currently the only state without a contemporary music strategy.

Sound NSW will be charged with the development and delivery of a 10-year Contemporary Music Strategy so that there is finally a plan for the future of NSW music for the first time in the state’s history.

Over the past 12 years under the Liberals, the number of music venues in NSW has halved, according to new data from Liquor & Gaming NSW, with just 133 licensed venues left in the state.

A parliamentary inquiry into NSW’s live music sector heard evidence that the NSW Liberals’ lockouts alone closed 176 venues.

Bringing back lost venues

Labor’s music plan includes a commitment to dramatically strengthen planning provisions to protect existing venues and produce new venues. We 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 which has operated successfully to save key theatre venues in Sydney, and apply it to other areas of Sydney and 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, in four locations: 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.

As someone who has spent most of my life going to gigs and supporting friends in the industry, these are just some of the initiatives we have announced as part of our plan to revive the music scene. 

  • 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.
Skye Tito

Author Skye Tito

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