New Taskforce to rev up live music scene

New Taskforce to rev up live music scene

Some of Australia’s leading music industry experts have teamed up with the City of Sydney to revive Sydney’s live music scene.

The City has established a Live Music and Live Performance Taskforce which met for the first time today.

Over the next six months, the new taskforce will explore issues such as how to help venue operators negotiate the approvals process and manage noise, ways to open up new and unconventional spaces to performance, and how to support entrepreneurs and performers with staging events.

The taskforce is a result of Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s call for measures to support live music across Sydney, which is struggling due to venue shortages and bureaucratic red tape.

“One of my major objectives for pushing for small bars – along with John Wardle, who has agreed to chair this taskforce – was a renaissance of our live music scene,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The industry has been hit hard in recent years by regulatory and legislative changes that have led to fewer venues for live music.

“Poker machines and large sports screens in pubs, increased costs and increased competition from other forms of entertainment – they’ve all increased the pressure on live venues.

“Over the past decade, there has been a dramatic increase in residential living in parts of the city that were traditionally home to live entertainment.

“As a council, we need to balance everyone’s needs, and to do that we need to understand the issues.”

The members of the taskforce are:

  • John      Wardle, a musician, teacher and entertainment policy activist who helped      establish Sydney’s small bar scene and end the NSW Government’s      restrictive Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) regulations will chair      the taskforce;
  • Jonathan      Zwartz, one of Australia’s leading jazz musicians and organiser of the      renowned Starfish Club, who has played bass with Australian artists such      as Renee Geyer and James Morrison and international stars such as Wynton      Marsalis;
  • Dr Ianto Ware, the Federal Government’s newly appointed National Live Music Coordinator for Sounds Australia;
  • Kerri Glasscock, co-founder of the original underground music and performance space 505 in Surry Hills;
  • Associate Professor Shane Homan, author, Monash University teacher, and one of Australia’s leading authorities on live music regulation;
  • Dean Ormston, Deputy Chair of the Music Council of Australia and Head of      Corporate Services at the Australasian Performing Rights Association;
  • Dan Zilber, General Manager of Music for FBi Radio 94.5, who has been music director of the community station since its foundation in 2003 and is responsible for all music content across all its platforms including live music venue FBi Social;
  • Dr Kate Shaw, University of Melbourne academic and alternative cultures expert who helped lead the ‘Save the Espy’ campaign to protect the famous Melbourne rock venue;
  • Alex Masso, manager of the Music Council of Australia’s Music in Communities Network;
  • Paul Nicolaou, Chief Executive of the Australian Hotel Association (NSW); and
  • Frank Henry, a lead officer in the development of Brisbane City Council’s Fortitude Valley Harmony Plan, which is considered a landmark example of support for live music by a capital city government.

Veteran rocker Diesel and up-and-coming band Tin Sparrow helped launch the taskforce at Sydney Town Hall.

“It sounds like a cliché but it’s true, one gig is worth a thousand rehearsals. I can’t stress enough how important it is for someone who is trying to emerge from practising in their bedroom to have somewhere to play. It’s just sad to watch venues expressing these difficulties,” Diesel said at the launch.

Kerri Glasscock said: “It’s vital that we’re able to find solutions to ensure the longevity, growth and sustainability of live music and live performance in Sydney. It is home to some of the world’s finest artists. It’s disheartening in a city the size of Sydney that, for the most part, this community is constantly struggling to survive, let alone establish an artistic career.”

Dr Ware said: “I was thrilled to see the Lord Mayor’s recognition of smaller, artist-run venues and the Council’s commitment to addressing the problems posed by regulation. The taskforce is strong evidence of the City of Sydney’s commitment to innovation and participatory culture.”

The taskforce’s recommendations for short-, medium- and long-term actions by the City will be part of a draft Live Music and Live Performance Action Plan that Council will consider later in the year. The project is part of the City’s development of a Cultural Policy for Sydney.

A 2011 Ernst and Young report revealed:

  • Live      music contributes more than $1.2 billion to the Australian economy, with      NSW providing almost a third of the total;
  • Live      music is the industry’s biggest employer;
  • Australians      attended around 48 million live music performances in 2009-10; and
  • Live      music performances are the nation’s most popular live performance      activity.

For more information and the chance to have input on the City’s Cultural Policy, visit

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Rohan Sullivan, phone 02 9246 7298 or 0414 617 086, or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Matt Levinson on 0427 044 768 or