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Our famed music venues could disappear if we don't act

19 Mar 2020

Our famed music venues could disappear if we don't act

Victoria’s world-famous live music sector has been plunged into darkness.

Live music income – the major source of earnings for most Victorian acts these days – has pretty much dried up overnight at our 553 live music venues.

Every sector of the industry, including musicians, production crews, managers, booking agents, hospitality staff, merchandise companies and music media, have been severely affected.

The small venues and rehearsal studios forced to shut their doors are particularly vulnerable. Urgent and immediate action is required if musicians and hospitality staff are to have a place to return to work when the crisis subsides.

Throughout history, opportunistic carpet-baggers have moved in during times of crisis. Our venues and studios sit on sought-after high street real estate, and plenty of developers will be eyeing off some prized sites.

One thing this crisis has reminded us of is how much we crave social interaction through passions such as live music performances. Victorians need opportunities to socialise; it’s part of our DNA.

So we are calling on Planning Minister Richard Wynne to protect venues and rehearsal studios by banning planning applications for a change of use at live music venues for 24 months while the venues recover.

We also need a moratorium on immediate costs faced by venues: taxes, rates, utility charges, rent, liquor licensing fees (due at the end of this month), royalty fees and public liability insurance costs. And for banks to suspend repayments on business loans and mortgages.

The industry worked hard to create a great global music city. We cannot allow our venues to be redeveloped into cookie-cutter apartments.


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