Isabella Manfredi was flanked by an altogether different lineup when she took the mic at the NSW Parliament to voice her support for the grassroots music community.
Manfredi is typically out front as lead singer of The Preatures, but on Monday she was joined by the likes of ARIA CEO Dan Rosen, Oxford Art Factory boss Mark Gerber, homegrown electronic duo Set Mo (Nick Drabble and Stu Turner) and Keep Sydney Open co-ordinator Tyson Koh as a united industry team presented its findings to the inquiry into the music and arts economy.
In the lead up to the hearing, Keep Sydney Open argued that 176 licensed premises had been shut down since the state government imposed its “draconian lockout laws” in February 2014, which include a 1.30am lockout on inner city venues and a cease-service from 3am.
That figure was based on a report from the Liquor & Gaming NSW, which revealed some 418 licensed premises had closed in the Sydney CBD and Kings Cross since the lockout was introduced, while 242 licenses were approved.
“Don’t let the bright lights of VIVID fool you: we are experiencing a cultural crisis replete with empty streets and closing venues,” the advocacy group warns. Along with crucial “live music venues” and several hundred jobs being lost in that time, the “magic around our city is fading,” Keep Sydney Open states.
There have been signs of a breakthrough, with the NSW government announcing last week that the freeze on new liquor licences was lifted for venues which host live music (including DJ sets) in the CBD and Kings Cross, beginning from this Friday (June 1).
Also, the Live Music Office managed to help secure exceptions for about 30 live and arts venues, where the lockout is now pushed back from 2am and the cease-serviced moved to 3.30am.
Monday’s inquiry also included evidence from Commercial Radio Australia CEO Joan Warner and NSW Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Walton, and Luke Briscoe, Managing Director, Office & Industrial at AMP Capital, who addressed details on the ownership of The Basement which weren’t previously in the public domain.
Onlookers who spoke with TIO said Manfredi delivered a strong presentation and gave the police “a serve.”
This inquiry was established on 23 November 2017 to “inquire into and report on the music and arts economy” in NSW.
The first stage of the inquiry took place March 26, with Hoodoo Guru Dave Faulkner, Tim Levinson (aka Urthboy), Brooke McClymont of The McClymonts, APRA’s incoming CEO Dean Ormston and MusicNSW chairman Professor Julian Knowles among the speakers.
The parliamentary committee’s next round of hearings are in the diary for July 3, though the locations have yet to be confirmed.
There are now more than 400 submissions to the inquiry available online.
Keep an eye out for the transcript of yesterday’s sessions here.