Monday, October 26, 2009

Relief for live venues as regulations relaxed

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

The Hopetoun Hotel in Sydney closed its doors on September 28

Closed: The Hopetoun Hotel in Surry Hills. (ABC: Emma Swift)

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."


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