Monday, October 26, 2009
Relief for live venues as regulations relaxed
By Lucy Carter
Posted Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:16am AEDT
Updated Fri Oct 23, 2009 10:46am AEDT
Over the past few weeks, the future of live music in New South Wales has been closely scrutinised.
Several well known music venues have closed or said they are in trouble. All of them blame state and local government regulations.
The New South Wales Government says it will now cut red tape and abolish 'Place of Public Entertainment' or POPE licences which are required for venues to host live music.
Planning Minister Kristina Keneally says these changes will reinvigorate the music scene.
"What it means is that from Monday (October 26), local restaurants and pubs will no longer need development approval if they want to host live bands or musicians," she said.
"We've got a lot of young performers in this state. What this change does is make available to them a whole host of new venues.
"They can use this to build a fan base and get experience performing live."
But venue operators are not convinced it is enough.
The Annandale Hotel in inner Sydney has been trading since the 1930s and has hosted acts like Jet, The Hoodoo Gurus and You Am I.
But in recent weeks, its owners have indicated that they are struggling to stay afloat in the face of constant regulatory battles.
Co-owner Matt Rule says he is interested to see how the abolition of POPE licences will affect venues.
"They look like they are quite handy little changes to be able to get music back into smaller venues," he said.
"Addressing a lot of those issues in regards to having to go through big applications and changes to your venue just to put everyday music on is very positive.
"I'd be interested to see how it affects venues like us in regards to how we continue working with our current code or how we renew it, or if it just goes away."
The owner of Sydney's Oxford Art Factory, Mark Gerber, agrees that it looks like a nifty way to eliminate red tape.
"I can talk from experience here we had to do a DA application and also had to apply for a public entertainment licence," he said.
"So two separate boxes had to be ticked, which can be quite costly.
"If you can do all in one, because it is all one venue after all, I think it'll make things easier for people."
But both say getting live music back on its feet is more complicated than just cutting red tape.
The Annandale's Matt Rule says if politicians are serious about supporting the industry, they will look at other issues.
"The ongoing problem, - I don't know if it's going to be sorted so easily - is the resident issue and claims against small businesses," he said.
"Also having realistic noise conditions placed on hotels and people exiting and coming to venues and the noise associated with that.
"Until you have a more flexible ruling on that, it's going to be difficult."
Gerber from Oxford Art Factory says that the future of live music also lies with the general public.
"It's not just down to the government or the council lifting some of the rules and regulations," he said.
"I think we have to look at the industry as a whole.
"The support from the public is kind of an ebb and flow thing - some gigs are really busy others are dead and yet you're standing in front of a possible future Wolfmother."So it's down to the public as well to come out and support these acts."
Sunday, October 25, 2009
NSW Govt Cuts Live Music Red Tape
News posted Friday, October 23 2009 at 04:00 PM.
In an effort to cut the red tape for live entertainment, the NSW Government has no longer made it necessary for venues to require a special Place Of Public Entertainment Licence (POPE) to host gigs. Under the old system, venues could not provide live entertainment without a POPE licence, which carried expensive ongoing costs and often required a substantial building upgrade to obtain.
Speaking to reporters today (October 23), NSW Planning Minister Kristina Keneally said the new directive would open up the floodgates for new venues and increase opportunities for local musicians. "The abolition of the POPE licences mean local eateries and watering holes no longer need development approval if they want to host live bands or musicians," Keneally told AAP.
But while the bureaucratic process of hosting live music has been eased, the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing still has the power to add liquor licence conditions to regulate security, trading hours, patron numbers and other matters at venues as it sees fit. Make of that what you will.The new system will come into effect on Monday (October 26). For more information click here.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Jamie Parker, the current Mayor of Leichhardt Council, is likely to be the Greens candidate for the seat of Balmain in the upcoming NSW state election in 2011. It's a marginal state seat the Greens want to win.
The NSW Greens policy on Arts states that they will:
Protect the provision of live entertainment in pubs and clubsThe Greens also have an outright majority on Leichhardt Council. They have the ability to change council by-laws and regulations to make it easier for venues like the Annandale that are vital to the local Sydney music scene.
You can email Mayor Parker to urge him and his fellow Green councillors to actually uphold his party's policies and support live music at the Annandale Hotel at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for live aid
Legacy … Jet's Nic Cester performs at the Annandale Hotel in 2006.
Photo: Domino Postiglione
As the scramble is on to reschedule the now-closed Hopetoun Hotel's gigs, some of Sydney's most-loved live music venues fear a similar fate.
Crippling red tape, gentrified suburbs and rising property values have made live music a frustrating and exorbitantly expensive business for Sydney's venue owners.
''On top of all the hardships that live venues have to deal with, the number one hindrance to our business has been our local council,'' says Matthew Rule, who, with his brother, Daniel, has owned the Annandale Hotel since 2000.
He claims they have been fighting Leichhardt Council for eight years on everything from development applications to outside seating. An ongoing five-year Land and Environment Court saga over late-trading and noise compliance cost them more than $200,000.
"We're having our last throw of the dice,'' Rule says, referring to a development application being submitted for an improved hotel with a refurbished restaurant.
"We've had to go back and loan and refinance to pay our legal fees to survive. This is for a hotel that supports live music, supports local talent, has never had an issue with the police and has gone from 15 poker machines to nine, which is the lowest we can go.''
Leichhardt mayor Jamie Parker says the council is ''trying to work out ways we can support venues like the Annandale''.
''Everything apart from fire safety and patron safety we can try to work at,'' he says. ''When it comes to security, when it comes to noise management, there is always five different ways you can solve one problem so that's where we just need to keep on having that dialogue with the Annandale.''
Likewise, the City of Sydney Council has pledged to work with venues like the Hopetoun - but its doors remain closed, at least until the new year.
"To say live music is dead is wrong," the owner of Newtown's Sandringham Hotel, Tony Townsend, says. "But it's become difficult keeping up with the changes in legislation and it's somewhat difficult, even in an area like Newtown, appeasing the neighbours."
Owner of the Sando since 2004, Townsend spent close to $250,000 in legal fees, sound measurement and acoustic protection following residents' complaints.
"While it cost the residents the price of a stamp and a letter, all the onus was on us to prove we complied. If I didn't have that sort of capital up my sleeve then it would have closed the live side down," says Townsend, adding that the Sandringham Hotel now runs
120 acts a month and has the numbers to justify a new 300-seater live music space due for completion late this year.
Townsend credits a late-trading license for the Sando's success, saying a couple of extra hours after a show allows people to have a drink and ''makes all the difference''.
Industry insiders say the loss of another venue like the Hoey would further prevent new bands from being found and honing their craft.
''It's going to be a struggle for those smaller venues always but they've got to be there - otherwise the flow-on of musicians from the ground level won't happen,'' says Adam Yee, a booking agent and promoter.
''I dread to think what happens if the Excelsior and the Annandale follow the same route as the Hoey.''
Determined to survive, some venues are opening later and for fewer nights a week or seeking out corporate dollars. The Metro Theatre, after facing financial troubles, signed a two-year naming sponsorship deal with Virgin Mobile last month. The Annandale did the same with Jagermeister in 2004, allowing for events such as Jager Uprising, a weekly competition for young bands.
The general manager of the Oxford Art Factory, Mark Gerber, says his venue was designed for more than just live music.
''You can't look at live music as a seven-day-a-week venture, we don't have the numbers,'' he says. ''Some of our smaller nights with these upcoming bands are bankrolled by corporate functions.''
But the public still have the power.
''If all the people that complained about the Hoey [closing] actually went to see a band and bought a beer, it would not have closed down,'' Gerber says.''Live music needs live audiences; audiences that drink a couple of beers while seeing the talent that Australia has to offer. Those couple of beers might allow venues the funds to stay up to date with new regulations governing places of public entertainment.''