Labor vows to stop war on music

Charity Mirrow, Millie Hope, Willem Hendriksen, Trish Doyle MP, Meg Benson, John Graham MLC and Chris Cannell outside the Baroque Room in Katoomba. Photo: Camille Walsh Photography
Charity Mirrow, Millie Hope, Willem Hendriksen, Trish Doyle MP, Meg Benson, John Graham MLC and Chris Cannell outside the Baroque Room in Katoomba. Photo: Camille Walsh Photography

Labor's shadow minister for music, John Graham, and Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle met with local music industry representatives in Katoomba last week to announce Labor’s support for the local music scene.

Under the NSW Liberals and Nationals, venues are closing across NSW, funding for the industry has been stagnant at $4 million over the last four years compared to $27 million in Victoria over the same period, and the Government has declared war on music festivals.

Mr Graham said" “NSW has lost hundreds of venues and thousands of jobs since the NSW Liberals and Nationals were elected in 2011. Now due to [their] actions, we are losing music festivals as well.

“Labor will put an end to the war on music,” he said.

A few weeks ago Labor’s leader Michael Daley and Mr Graham announced Labor’s plan for the music sector which includes:

• An increase in total funding for contemporary music from under $4 million over the last four years of Liberal and National Government to $35 million.

• Establishing a “music community” designation to recognise communities that have a strong music sector and value music. Labor will develop formal guidelines and a threshold to achieve the music community designation, and then work with local councils to support and promote these communities including in western Sydney.

• Direct support for artists to record and tour, including internationally through a new $1.3 million “music passport” program; and regionally and nationally through a new $5.1 million “band aid” program.

• Invest $4 million in supporting music festivals across NSW. Labor will also streamline the licensing process for music festivals and allow organisers with an established record to obtain multi-year approvals for festivals.

• Rebuilding the suburban and regional touring circuit in NSW, with $1.3 million to support an “on the road again” program to take music industry promoters and booking agents on tour to regional venues and provide a substantial funding boost to the live and local program.

• Labor will work with the music industry to develop mentoring programs for music education at school. As part of this program, Labor will trial the purchase of musical instruments for 10 schools in western Sydney or rural and regional NSW.

• Labor will formally review the provision of music education in NSW on coming to government.

Labor will also launch a new youth music organisation, which will work with Music NSW to support young artists and promoters get a start in the industry.

Labor’s plan to stop the Liberal Party’s war on live music comes on the heels of measures already announced to save live music in NSW including implementing the parliamentary music inquiry’s 60 recommendations and implementing measures to improve conditions for music venues.

NSW shadow minister for music and the night time economy, John Graham, said: “Labor wants to keep venues open and keep musicians in work. We want to see a thriving music community across the Blue Mountains.”

Labor MP, Trish Doyle, said: “Labor want to reinvigorate the touring circuit so we see bands performing in the Mountains on their way through regional NSW and interstate.

“There was particular interest in music education coming from our local music community. Labor has committed to formally review music education in government.”

Liberal candidate for Blue Mountains, Owen Laffin, said the Liberal/National government was committed to growing a vibrant, safe and diverse night-time economy. 

“This year we’ve already announced a $1.5 million boost aimed at stimulating the night-time economy, including a $1 million Music NOW fund to help stage gigs, festivals and other music events. We are also slashing red tape to make it cheaper, faster and easier to set up and run a night-time business, because small businesses are the backbone of any economy.

“Under the NSW Liberals and Nationals, NSW is back in the black with a robust economy and record low unemployment. Only we have the financial management skills to keep the budget in surplus while boosting support for musicians and night-time business owners."