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Gold Coast taskforce bids to create ‘new Austin’

The Queensland city's new Live Music Action Plan 2017–2020 aims to reduce red tape and simplify licensing in order to capitalise on its "thriving youth demographic"

By Jon Chapple on 31 Oct 2016

Blues on Broadbeach, Gold Coast, Queensland

Gold Coast thronged with festivalgoers for Blues on Broadbeach 2015

image © Blues on Broadbeach

Local authorities in Gold Coast, Queensland, have unveiled plans for a ‘live music taskforce’ they hope will transform the Australian city – home to more than half a million people – into a live music capital.

The taskforce is one of the recommendations of the Live Music Action Plan 2017–2020 – the final version of which will be put before Gold Coast City Council next year – which seeks to build on “signature events” such as the Blues on Broadbeach and Bleach* festivals, “both of which continue to grow, attracting visitors to the city with quality music the key attraction” to boost its music economy in the run-up to its hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

The report, presented to the city’s Economic Development and Major Projects Committee on 27 October, draws a parallel between Gold Coast and Austin, Texas (the ‘live music capital of the world’), both in their “thriving youth demographic” and similar climate. “As evidenced by the Austin, Texas, benchmark,” it reads, “there is an appetite for live music amongst young professionals and 25–39-year-olds.”

Problems currently facing artists, promoters and venues in the city include a “regulatory system […] perceived by stakeholders as prohibitive for venues and performers, and a barrier to the genuine development and well-being of the live music sector on the Gold Coast”, the report says. “This incorporates the liquor licensing regime, sound restrictions, sound measuring methods, complaint handling mechanisms and the nature of interactions with local and state compliance authorities, which are described by stakeholders as discouraging and even intimidating in some cases.”

The taskforce will “review current planning, regulatory and compliance processes and requirements with a view to reducing barriers for the delivery of live music in Gold Coast”

It also highlights a need for more venues; especially larger ones; for increased investment and the creation of ‘evening economy zones’, as in the Sunshine Coast; an overhaul of “archaic, out of date” noise restrictions, which are the same in every venue; and for lifting the city-wide ban on postering. In addition, research by Griffin University suggests Gold Coast “struggles with a ‘bikies’ image and the Gold Coast Cops TV show”, while the effect of Queensland’s controversial lock-out laws on “the delivery of live music on the Gold Coast are yet to be determined”.

The finalised Live Music Action Plan will be presented to the council in May 2017 following an audit of the city’s music venues and the establishment of a ‘live music regulatory taskforce’ to “review current planning, regulatory and compliance processes and requirements, with a view to reducing barriers for the delivery of live music on the Gold Coast”.

While Gold Coast’s efforts may be successful in increasing the number of Australian musicians playing in the city, there could be little effect on foreign ones: Live Performance Australia warned earlier this month that an increase of up to 600% in visas fees would act as a “major disincentive for international artists” to tour Australia.


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