In April / May 2015 the Live Music Office returned to regional Queensland for music workshops and forums in Mackay and Townsville as well as forums and local government engagement on the Gold Coast.

From 20-24 April  the Live Music Office accompanied QMusic and APRA AMCOS to Mackay and Townsville to support QMusic with its 2015 regional program, and on 4/5 May the Live Music Office joined with Griffith University and Gold Coast Council for meetings and a consultation session for the development of a Contemporary Music Plan for the City of Gold Coast.

Navigating the Music Industry Workshops in Mackay on Monday 20 April  & Tuesday 20 April gave local musicians and venues the opportunity to consult with visiting organisations in detail on challenges and opportunities for the Mackay scene. Catching up with Mackay Council on Tuesday morning, the Live Music Office was able to show how other local government areas are progressing tailored plans to better support live music.

The Live Music Office Open Forum on Tuesday 21 April in Townsville attracted over 60 attendees for a robust public discussion of the issues facing live music in this North Queensland city. Hosted in the Loft Bar at at the Seaview Hotel, the event was attended by  Councillor Les Walker representing Townsville Mayor, Cr Jenny Hill,  the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR), the chair of the Townsville Liquor Accord, as well as musicians, venues and local industry. In what was a frank exchange of views over two hours, good support and understanding of the issues facing the live music sector were displayed by Council and OLGR, and we hope this is an important milestone for the future of live music in Townsville with more constructive events being planned.

The Wednesday 22 April Navigating the Music Industry Workshop provided open discussion and workshop for musicians, bands, event managers, venue managers and music industry entrepreneurs in Townsville covering event strategy, management, copyright and royalties as well as a look at ways to enhance Townsville’s live music scene. The Thursday Live Music Office meeting at the Old Courthouse saw musicians from the Townsville  blues and roots as well as ATSI music scene make representation on their issues, which have been passed on to Qmusic and The ATSI Music Office.

Chaired by Professor Andy Bennett, Director, Griffith Centre for Cultural Research, on Monday 4 May a consultation session for the development of a Contemporary Music Plan for the City of Gold Coast was held at  live music venue The Loft, on Chevron Island. Also from Griffith University was Ben Green, and representing the City of Gold Coast were Criena Gehrke (Executive Coordinator, Arts and Culture) and Dan Carroll (Senior Project Officer, Arts and Culture), with John Wardle from the Live Music Office. Over 30 local musicians and venues attended this targeted event, with representatives from ABC Gold Coast as well as Clr Willian Owen Jones. The number one issue raised from working musicians was the operation of the noise provisions from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) with further issues tabled included the closure of venues and conduct of regulators, lack of venues, image and perception, and better connection with adjacent cities.

Of real concern on the Gold Coast was the Draft City Plan 2015 from Council, and that whilst the intent is identified to support entertainment uses in the CBD, Specialist Use and Neighbourhood Centres, this may not be supported by provisions in the applicable codes – Zone / Use / and Overlay. In Queensland both Fortitude Valley and the Hospitality Areas in night economy zones on the Sunshine Coast both have planning provisions to reduce land use conflict where residents choose to live adjacent to entertainment centres.

A number of key issues and outcomes were identified from these forums for live music.

  • The drafting of a new cultural strategy for Mackay Regional Council in 2015 provides a great opportunity for strategic planning to support Mackay musicians and venues and address issues raised with Council from the Mackay music workshops.
  • The operation of the noise provisions from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) was recognised as the biggest issue facing musicians and venues both in Townsville and The City of Gold Coast.
  • The need for strategic planning from local government in all of these cities are to have a sustainable live music scene.
  • Access to venues.
  • Integrity issues with the disconnect of applicable codes in the City of Gold Coast Draft City Plan 2015 and the intent to support entertainment uses in the CBD, Specialist Use and Neighbourhood Centres identified in the planning scheme.
  • The coming Commonwealth Games provides an excellent opportunity for cultural funding and priorities to be focused on developing the City of Gold Coast live music ecosystem.

The Live Music Office will be working further with Qmusic, APRA AMCOS and the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research in the months ahead to formalise these issues and make representation to state and local governments to better align regulatory and planning responses, as well as cultural priorities, to better support live music in these cities.