The Sydney Late Night Culture Alliance believes that Premier Barry O'Farrell's proposed laws to improve safety should not be based on the Newcastle lock-out model and that significant improvements should be made to public transport in the city's CBD and surroundings to ensure the city's population can get home quickly and safely.
As such, the Alliance's first campaign '1.31am – Keep Sydney Open' has been launched specifically to target the proposals.
TheMusic.com.au is a founding member of the Alliance alongside peak state body MusicNSW, music advocacy organisation SLAM, community radio station FBi Radio, venues GoodGod Small Club and the Oxford Art Factory and fellow media inthemix and The Music Network.
“On the back of the live music-led rejuvenation and alongside an emerging small bars culture, Sydney has fought hard to grow and innovate,” says the Alliance. “These new laws will turn back the clock on Sydney and its now lively late-night cultural scene.”
MusicNSW's Executive Office Kirsty Brown told theMusic.com.au today, “It's been tough to make a living from live music in Sydney for a long time now, and these laws will make it even tougher. We strongly felt that all the good work that had been done in the last five or six years, with the emergence of a small bar culture, and unique venues like GoodGod and Oxford Art Factory having such a positive effect on Sydney's nightlife, that we could not sit idly by while we lost what we'd all fought so hard to gain.
“The Alliance allows Sydney's music venues and organisations the opportunity to tackle the issue together, in a non-competitive way, and work towards solutions that can actually work.”
It is believed that the Premier hopes to push through some of the proposals before the weekend.
Hey Geronimo at GoodGod Small Club. Pic by Josh Groom
The Alliance believes that Sydney venues – particularly those with live entertainment – provide a safe environment for the city's population to socialise and enjoy themselves, create employment for young people and encourage the growth of small business. By implementing a lockout based on Newcastle, which is a regional city of half a million residents, the Alliance believes that the laws will constrict Sydney's standing as a global city.
A lockout, and other proposals from the Premier, are "designed to fail", the Alliance says.
Cultural activity reduces violence and as live venues generally trade with lower profit margins, reduced operating hours will make it tougher for cultural venues to be viable.
The Alliance has set up a website as well as Twitter and Facebook pages and is calling upon other Sydney organisations, venues and music stakeholders to join the Alliance. You can find those contact details here.
Essential to the Alliance's success will be the support of the music-loving community, who should keep tuned to the Alliance's channels for news on how to help sustain the city's culture.
MusicNSW, SLAM, FBi Radio, GoodGod Small Club, Oxford Art Factory, theMusic.com.au/The Music, inthemix and The Music Network
“When you're dealing with any government it's important to show you have numbers on your side," Brown tells theMusic. "Numbers are votes! And the votes of young people are becoming more and more crucial. The Sydney live music scene has often been fragmented when dealing with issues that affect us, and forming an alliance I think also demonstrates a maturity within our own industry.
"It sends a message that we should not be shut out of the discussion, because if we can get together and enthusiastically talk about things like lockout laws, regulatory issues and work towards solutions, it certainly challenges the stereotype that we're all black t-shirt wearing drunks who only want to argue about the Hottest 100.
"We're a powerful group of people, and I think the Alliance symbolises that we have finally realised our potential and importance to this city.”
Note: This story was altered at 10.59am to amend the reference to the tabling of the lockout laws. Originally reported as being postponed until February, it has since been confirmed as being pushed through this week.
War On Drugs at the Oxford Art Factory this month. Pic by Josh Groom