Live music was a big issue on the agenda at April’s Council meeting. My Notice of Motion that was supported by Council will see the City investigate re-introducing a program of free lunchtime concerts held in the Martin Place amphitheatre. This will be a great opportunity for the City to directly support emerging Sydney bands and musicians. In the 90s lunchtime concerts were a regular feature in Martin Place and featured some fantastic Sydney acts. These concerts were hugely popular and brought a festive atmosphere to the city.
As a long time live music patron I was thrilled to see the Live Music Performance Action Plan adopted by Council. The Greens have always recognised the benefits of a strong live music scene. One of my first acts as a newly elected Councillor in 2008 was to support the campaign to help the Oxford Arts Factory with noise complaints. I am pleased to see Council formally recognise the need to support this industry as part of our broader cultural and community goals.
The plan features 57 different measures which aim to tackle regulatory barriers for venues and improve the City’s relationship with the industry. The community has responded to the plan with enormous enthusiasm.
Other measures in the Action Plan include grants for organisations wanting to hold all-ages events, increased access to rehearsal spaces in City owned properties and advocate for venues that exist primarily for live music to be exempt from the NSW Government’s lock outs. There is clear evidence to show that live music reduces alcohol consumption which fits in with the City’s broader goal of providing a more diverse late night cultural experience to reduce the incidence of ‘beer barn’ style anti-social behaviour. The Action Plan also proposes further research into audible low frequency noise which has the ability to travel the furthest. Currently, regulations only focus on noise levels for higher frequencies as low frequencies are more difficult to measure. With further research and improved building standards we can further mitigate the impact of this on local residents.
I do have some concerns for residential areas adjacent to the lock-out areas. Some of these areas are zoned as mixed use (eg. Residential and commercial) and therefore subject to exempt and complying development regulations, meaning that they may not require a development application for a change of use to a property. I have called for sensitivity when dealing with these areas, particularly in Chippendale which is under huge development pressures from the new Central development and the City Access Strategy.