NSW: A breakdown of the new live music reforms and Covid-19 restriction lifts

NSW has recently become the accommodator for the biggest law reforms affecting the live music industry in the state’s history. On November 12, the NSW Legislative Council passed amendments that saw long overdue, but nonetheless historic changes made to liquor, planning, local government and building laws.

The reforms have excited all and everyone, particularly for the chance to close the door on restrictive lockout laws, archaic licensing agreements and other barriers that have put a hold on what can and can’t be done in NSW.

In an upcoming podcast for UTS Central News podcast The Dish, Live and Local Program Manager at Live Music Office, Lucy Joseph, said these reforms were ‘monumental’ for NSW:

“Over the last 20 to 30 years there’s been an incremental ‘death by a thousand cuts’ situation for live music in NSW. Various governments have introduced legislation which was often contradictory, confusing and outdated and made it harder for local music to grow” she said

“These reforms make it far, far easier for local and live events to happen, so I highly recommend anyone working in the NSW music industry become familiar with these changes”.

But how will we see these reforms take shape in the climate of Covid-19?

Well. Right now, Covid-19 social distancing measures and NSW Health regulations still take precedent. After all, pandemic planning doesn’t just get thrown out the window thanks to a few, but very mighty law changes.

This means that for now, we may need to hold off on enjoying all the live music offerings these reforms promise. But it doesn’t mean we can’t get planning.

Here’s a breakdown of the new reforms:

  • Venues can now host bands and musicians playing any genre of music. For years many venues have operated under licenses that prohibited them from hiring musicians of certain genres.
  • Venues have control over how many musicians can play at a venue, where they can perform at the venue and what instruments can be played. Previously, the fine print in some licenses was so specific, even the type of instrument was factored in.
  • Live entertainment restrictions for suburban restaurants and bars will be axed, meaning venues have the freedom to book more acts and more often.
  • Disco balls can now be hung in any venue – previously, only venues licensed as nightclubs could hang a glittering globe.
  • Venues that offer live music can be granted extended trading hours and discounts on liquor licensing – bye bye lockout laws! (Though this reform excludes King’s Cross).
  • Local councils have the power to remove any entertainment bans that may exist in their precincts.
  • Due to Covid-19, actions will be taken to re-appropriate certain outdoor spaces into temporary outdoor performance spaces. This means more outdoor events that also adhere to social distancing rules.
  • Established cultural precincts will be made around the state, meaning that places with established live music and cultural activities can’t be subject to overzealous noise restrictions or public amenity rules from local councils

More information about the reforms to NSW liquor licensing, planning, and local government legislation can be found HERE.

As for where things sit in regards to the Covid-19 rules in NSW, this week a pile of welcome changes have been announced, that go into effect on Monday, December 7th. 

  • The 1 person per 2 square metre rule will take force, except in nightclubs which will maintain the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.
  • 50 people will be allowed on an indoor dance floor.
  • Outdoor theatres can now entertain at 100% capacity, indoor theatres can entertain at 75% capacity.
  • Outdoor gatherings can hold up to 100 people, up from the previous cap of 50 people.
  • Outdoor events that are fenced, ticketed and seated can hold up to 5000 people.
  • Up to 50 performers will be allowed indoors at events, with no maximum cap at outdoors events – audiences are advised to continue wearing masks during the performance.

Read the Premier’s announcement on these lifted restrictions for NSW, HERE.

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