Life & Style Weekend - - MAGAZINE | ESCAPE - WORDS: DAR­REN HALLESY The writer was a guest of City of Gold Coast and HOTA, Home of the Arts.

The Gold Coast has a long his­tory as a live mu­sic cen­tre and has been home to a host of iconic venues – from the Chevron Ho­tel of the 1950s to iconic venues like The Play­room, Bom­bay Rock, The Rose and Crown and the Coolan­gatta Ho­tel.

The city has also hosted nu­mer­ous ma­jor fes­ti­vals, in­clud­ing Big Day Out, through­out its his­tory and the fu­ture for big events, along with big names, is only set to grow.

Queen is play­ing Met­ri­con Sta­dium early in 2020 and it will sig­nal the shape of things to come, with Gold Coast City Coun­cil launch­ing a Mu­sic Ac­tion Plan, a blue­print de­signed to change the face of the city’s mu­sic scene not just for tourists but for its 600,000 res­i­dents.

Af­ter be­ing pushed out of live clubs to make way for poker ma­chines, live mu­sic on the coast is com­ing back and show­ing a new ma­tu­rity.

Since the Com­mon­wealth Games ended, the Gold Coast has set upon a cul­tural rev­o­lu­tion, with a $7 mil­lion arts sec­tor in­vest­ment de­signed to give the city di­rec­tion and ac­ces­si­bil­ity to mu­sic and the arts.

It is a project that is giv­ing res­i­dents pride in their city and proves there is more to the place than tourism and golden beaches.

With a new art gallery set to open in 2021,

things are look­ing up in the area and you’re in­vited to join the fun.

At the fore­front of the mu­sic rev­o­lu­tion sit Blues on Broad­beach, held ev­ery May, and the Ground­wa­ter Coun­try Mu­sic Fes­ti­val, which is Aus­tralia’s fastest-grow­ing coun­try event held ev­ery July.

Run­ning since 2013, Ground­wa­ter is spread over three days, with mul­ti­ple stages around Broad­beach.

Take in a show on the main stage, in the big top, in the mall or in a cafe, the op­tions are end­less.

Af­ter each act you can move to hear more mu­sic or en­joy what is a foodie’s par­adise, with a mul­ti­tude of award-win­ning restau­rants, cafes and ice cream par­lours scat­tered through­out Broad­beach.

In to­tal, live mu­sic can be heard at 14 lo­ca­tions around Broad­beach.

The best part about Ground­wa­ter though, is the cost. It’s free. Yes, free, that’s not a mis­print.

With a great fam­ily at­mos­phere, the fes­ti­val draws not just coun­try fans but fam­i­lies who are now in the habit of spend­ing three days ev­ery July in

Broad­beach for the fes­ti­val.

Some of the acts in 2019 in­cluded

Lee Ker­naghan, Tex Perkins, Davis­son Brothers Band and Becky Cole.

Ev­ery year the fes­ti­val gets big­ger and or­gan­is­ers ad­mit that get­ting artists to come along is never a hard sell.

Per­form­ing at sev­eral Ground­wa­ter fes­ti­vals over the years is lo­cal prodigy Casey Barnes, who has lived on the coast for more than 20 years and is a star on the rise in coun­try mu­sic around the world.

“It means so much for me to play here,” Casey said.

“I’ve al­ways had a unique re­la­tion­ship with the mu­si­cal di­rec­tor. We’ve been friends for a long time and when I first started out he was the one who gave me a start and I’ve never for­got­ten that.

“Play­ing a gig at a cafe here in Broad­beach 15 years ago was piv­otal for me.

“There was a woman who walked past, had a lis­ten, bought my CD and she’s now my wife. So this whole street has good mem­o­ries for me.

“The thing I love about coun­try mu­sic is that there are no egos, ev­ery­one is will­ing to help each other, it’s re­ally such a good vibe. It’s the best, I love Ground­wa­ter. There’s no

other fes­ti­val like this in the coun­try.”

Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate be­lieves it is time to make the Gold Coast a spot for tour­ing acts to add to their list.

“Based on the live mu­sic plan we have iden­ti­fied mul­ti­ple mu­sic lo­ca­tions, we have to at­tract the big names and that will make the Gold Coast a mu­sic city,” Cr Tate said.

“Would I look at build­ing a bou­tique sta­dium? Yes, I would, but it would be a multi-pur­pose sta­dium, tak­ing in mu­sic, soc­cer or rugby union.

“I’d love to see the likes of Ed Sheeran and Pink on the Gold Coast and I al­ready have a lo­ca­tion in mind.”

The new art gallery is set to be a huge at­trac­tion to res­i­dents of the coast and will also draw vis­i­tors from South­east Queens­land.

“I want to bring the ex­pe­ri­ence of art, us­ing dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy and vir­tual re­al­ity, of stand­ing next to Leonardo Da Vinci while he’s paint­ing the Mona Lisa and then walk­ing around his stu­dio,” Cr Tate said.

“That’s the sort of in­ter­ac­tiv­ity I’d like to see.

“It gets a younger gen­er­a­tion ex­cited about art and sup­port­ing young cre­ativ­ity.

“We are a young city, only 60 years old, so we are able to en­cour­age the younger gen­er­a­tion to go for it.

“Art doesn’t just mean paint on can­vas, it’s film, it’s dig­i­tal and gam­ing – we have the tech­nol­ogy to do it.”

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