Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin


- DEAN GOULD Chair, GC Music Advisory Group

ONE of the most significan­t decisions about the Gold Coast’s future and vibrant personalit­y was made this week.

It would be easy to think it was the announceme­nt of the 2032 Olympics (Go Queensland!!).

That deserves all the commentary it has received, but more humbly the Gold Coast City Council on Tuesday voted to really embrace and empower the local live music scene. The impacts of this decision are positive and far-reaching for music lovers and music makers. Specifical­ly, our city leaders voted to introduce a Special Entertainm­ent Precinct (SEP) in Southport to provide the planning and regulatory framework for live music. Using words like “planning and regulatory framework” is not very rock’n’roll, I admit, but these new regulation­s will lay the foundation for live music venues to operate with more certainty and confidence.

The SEP is an initiative directly out of the Music Action Plan (MAP) for the city, adopted just over two years ago, and the result of another two years of consultati­on before that.

The MAP is already in play with support and incentive programs offered to local musicians and bands; mentoring and business advice available for the industry and the Music Advisory Group quietly (and sometimes not so

quietly) knocking on the right doors to further push the plan.

But the SEP is the big one. Of course it is still subject to public consultati­on and final approval, as it should be, but so much work has gone into it that the core principles are likely to stand up to any informed scrutiny.

The SEP is just what it says on the box. It is a defined “precinct” (in this case within Southport) that has “special” provisions attached to it around the provision of musical “entertainm­ent”. In lay terms, it means this is a few blocks of a suburb that will show special love for music venues and the playing of music, by making the operating of venues, the building of new venues and performing at a decent volume

all the more possible.

Chair of Council’s Planning Committee, Cr Cameron Caldwell, summed it up when he said: “We want to cut red tape for businesses that support live music, look at their trading hours and noise restrictio­ns but also protect those spaces we want for live music from other uses.”

One of the most significan­t side benefits of the SEP is the proposal to decouple sound control from liquor licensing. Historical­ly, the Office of Liquor and Gaming (OLG), a State Government body, has overseen music volumes regulation and liquor control. The two are completely unrelated of course but because of this fine printconne­ction dating back to the last century, a music venue

can lose its liquor licence because it breaches agreed sound volumes. That is a nonsensica­l coupling.

Make no mistake, venues will still be subject to sound regulation, but under the new proposal that will be managed by the council; while liquor licensing remains with the state OLG. Sound regulation will be more realistica­lly managed as well, measuring from outside the venue rather than alongside the speaker, as the current laws require.

It has been a long time coming to get the fundamenta­l underpinni­ngs of the live music scene into a town planning proposal.

Now if only Covid would allow us to go out and listen to some great live music to celebrate!

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