What’s next for live music in Newcastle?

Live music’s had a bit of a lift in Newcastle recently as part of a push to lock in a vibrant live music scene as part of future planning.

On Tuesday 27 February, Newcastle City Council resolved unanimously to implement a live music strategy.

The motion was moved by Carol Duncan, who spoke passionately about music to a bunch of musos, music lovers and promotors in the back rows of Council Chamber (not their usual environment). Carol said that in the past, changes had been retrospective, and that this was an opportunity to move to protect and grow Newcastle’s live music venues and the live music scene.

Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes also spoke to the motion, saying that this needed to be a “consistent and collaborative” effort from all three levels of government to make changes that other cities have already successfully rolled out.

The motion was moved by the Newcastle Labor councilors, however, their was bi-partisan support for the move with Independent candidates Cath Elliot and John Church also speaking in favour of the future of live music in the city.

Some of the actions in the strategy will be quick to be rolled out – with Newcastle City Council offering up some of its venues to young musos.

Brian Lizotte was in attendance, resplendent in a shirt embellished with treble clefs. As the owner of a live music venue in the inner city Brian was recently notified of a development application right next to Lizotte’s. The Lord Mayor was strong in her opinion that residential developments need to coexist alongside live music venues.

This can be effected by changes to s149 Certificates, ensuring that developers and potential residents are conscious that they are located in a busy city environment.

It was a long night at council, particularly for those who haven’t sat in those hard wooden pews in the gallery before. But it was all worthwhile when the motion passed unanimously to a woo and plenty of cheers and applause from the gallery.

What next?

A Newcastle Local Live Music Industry Advisory group will be set up as soon as possible under the guidance of the NSW Office of Live Music. Made up of musos, promoters, venues, education advocates and community radio, this group will advise all three levels of Govt about the specialised needs of the Newcastle live music community.

The really big legislative changes need three levels of govt cooperation, so council and the advisory group will be ensuring that a detailed Live Music Strategy will be guided by best practice and implemented to protect the live music industry and Newcastle’s nighttime economy.

We’re following in the lead of other cities who’ve already made it work. Council’s next act is to drive the after dark strategy by looking to Wollongong and Melbourne. See Wollongong’s Live Music Action Plan

Another change will be a streamlined events process with a standing DA in place for all events so there’s no need to break new ground over and over and over again. Promoters and community groups will be able to work with Council staff and get a generic approval for the event and get things happening quicker.

One of the most exciting developments is a process to make council owned venues available for in-kind use on certain days for all-ages gigs. The Civic Playhouse is one such venue and council is now exploring ways of opening up the venue to young bands. We’ll be following up on this and will let you know when it opens up and what the process is for booking.

Stay tuned live music lovers.

Written by Linda Drummond

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  1. I wish The City Of Sydney would follow Newcastle’s great lead, Sydney used to be a vibrant live music and arts city, now it’s struggling to survive. The successive LNP governments have devastated Sydney’s entertainment venues.

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