Prepared by the Live Music Office in partnership with Sydney Fringe Festival and Music NSW, this submission proposes that the New South Wales (NSW) and South Australian (SA) variations to the National Construction Code (NCC) definition of Assembly Building, associated NCC definitions of Class 6, as well as the SA Small Arts Venue variations be a matter for consideration to be adopted nationally by all states and territories in the NCC 2019.

This proposal identifies two distinct problems that could be addressed by reforming these provisions in the NCC for 2019.

1.The issues facing small to medium creative spaces and the application of definitions designed for larger premises with entertainment/assembly land use activity,

  • Lack of affordable appropriate small-medium sized cultural spaces for performance, rehearsal and multi-purpose use.
  • Restrictions on building use and land use that prohibits low-impact cultural use or performances in many areas that would otherwise suit that type of activity.
  • Lengthy and costly project timelines that prohibit temporary cultural activity or support sustainable grassroots business models.

2.The uncertainty and relevance of retaining identified clauses in the definition of Assembly Building pertaining to (i) a discotheque, nightclub or a bar area of a hotel or motel providing live entertainment

The 2015 Sydney Fringe Festival Findings Of The Pop-Up Theatre Pilot Project Report delivered by Festival Director and CEO Kerri Glasscock speaks to the issues the sector faces in the introduction.

In many instances, managers of small and medium creative spaces, generally under 500m2, have found focusing primarily on arts and cultural activity has drawn them into regulatory categories designed for much larger theatre and performance space. Whilst relatively defined regulatory pathways exist for small bars and retail spaces, regulation does not appear to scale effectively between small and large creative spaces.

Firstly, we advocate for a Small Arts Venue variation (or equivalent) to be introduced for nationally. Given that this is already in place in South Aaustralia, we seek to ensure that as an industry we have a nationally consistent approach from the National Construction Code where best practice state variations have been introduced and recognised.

This principle would then apply to the NSW and SA variations to 9b Assembly Building already in place, to be also applied as a consistent national definition.

If you are interested in reading further:

Download the Arts Venues and Assembly Buildings – Proposal for Change 2019 National Construction Code