Sydney’s cultural and night-time economy has sunk so low that dancing, DJs, disco balls and and even ukuleles have been banned by the fun police.
The industry will be put under the spotlight once again when a parliamentary inquiry hearing into the music and arts economy in New South Wales begins on Monday (March 26).
Speakers at the hearing will include rock band Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner, country music
Extreme examples reported in the Daily Telegraph included a bar in Sydney’s inner west being questioned by police for its spinning mirror ball while a single noise complaint saw a group of ukulele players evicted from a bowling club in the Hunter in 2017.
Established in November to inquire into and report on the music and arts economy in NSW, the inquiry attracted almost 400 written submissions.
Solotel Group, which runs operates a number of well known Sydney hotels and restaurants said that recent restrictions have damaged perceptions of Sydney on a local, interstate and global scale.
It believes late night transport, better lighting and civic planning were critical.
‘Sydney sparkles by
‘We have come to define night by curfews – midnight, 1.30am deadlines or 3am closures. This is in stark contrast to the truly global cities we call our peers – Melbourne, London, New York, Berlin and Paris, all of whom have night time economies that truly reflect the ecosystem of their city.’
The Australian Hotels Association called for strategies to address the downturn in live music.
‘One of the simple facts hurting music performances is that if hotels and other music venues aren’t protected from complaints being made, venues will continue to close,’ it stated.
Sydney Small Bars which represented 23 small bars in the CBD added: ‘We are now in a vicious cycle. The decrease of live music venues and creative outlets means less work for artists. Closure of bars and restaurants (or shortening of available working hours) means there is less income to be derived from hospitality than was previously the case. There are many of our community who have left Sydney and gone to other cities or overseas since the lock-outs came into effect.’
Sydney Opera House states its reliance on the wider activity and output in the commercial and not-for-profit music sectors, including small to mid-sized live entertainment venues which have been hit hardest by a crackdown on licensing and the city’s infamous lockout laws.
‘A sensitivity to these stakeholders’ priorities is crucial for local artistic communities to flourish, including standardising live-music regulatory processes to ensure liquor laws enable a safe night-time culture while fostering vibrancy and careful urban planning in mixed residential and commercial areas,’ it submission stated.
As director of the Sydney Fringe Festival, Ms Glasscock called for government investment in small-medium sized performance spaces that are open access and available for all artists to hire.
Clauses put on the annual event held Sydney inner city include ‘no dancing and ‘no DJs’.
‘Rising cost of living, rising business costs, increased residential development, archaic regulatory conditions and masses of red tape are literally decimating the sector,’ Ms Glasscock wrote.
‘The lack of affordable, appropriate cultural facilities is the single most pressing issue facing all art forms from our sector and as such this submission focuses on the need to create clear pathways to unlock cultural infrastructure for the independent sector.’
The New South Wales government’s lock out laws have have significantly changed the way the iconic Oxford Art Factory operates.
‘Kings Cross was a late night destination for those between 18–25 prior to the lock out – these groups have moved to Newtown and surrounding areas, giving less purposefulness to live music spaces like the now defunct Newtown Social Club, giving preference to boozy pub and nightclub culture.
‘The lock out has dramatically affected areas like Kings Cross and Oxford Street that were previously highly populated on Friday and Saturday nights. This has created spaces like the OAF to become a destination venue rather than a place that would trade efficiently till late on weekends without draw-card international acts or high cost DJ’s. The knock on effect of this limited foot traffic is the shutdown of complimentary establishments like cafes, shops and restaurants that would extend the time that people would be visiting the precinct.’