Minister weighs in on live music crisis
The State Government will work with Perth's music industry to tackle a crisis in the city's once-thriving gig scene in light of recent live- music venue closures.
Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said he would ask his department to look at options for an alternative to The Bakery, the 600 people-capacity Northbridge live-music venue due to close in May.
About 400 people met at The Bakery last week to discuss ways of dealing with a growing lack of live-music and arts venues in Perth.
Mr Day said though he had received no formal proposals for action, he recognised the importance of a viable live-music scene.
"Having an active contemporary music scene in Perth and WA, I think, is important and I'm certainly very supportive of doing whatever we can to ensure that can continue," he said.
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The Government distributed almost $468,000 in grants to 50 creative arts projects in 2013-14 and a similar amount is expected to be allocated this financial year.
West Australian Music, the State's peak body for contemporary music, also gets $340,000 in recurrent funding a year.
Mr Day said the Government would consider proposals to use that money differently but warned economic conditions were tight.
The Bakery, a mainstay of Perth's music and arts scene since 2002, was run by Government-backed arts producer Artrage, which was forced to announce the venue's closure in January.
Its lease was ended by venue owner and utility Western Power after it sold the land to a Chinese businessman who is thought to want to build apartments on the site.
It was the sounding of The Bakery's death knell, which came soon after the closure of two other city live-music venues, that prompted the industry, headed by promoter Dave Cutbush, to organise last week's meeting.
He wants the Government to back development of a new multi-purpose live-music venue.
Mr Day suggested the 1920s Rechabites Hall in William Street, Northbridge, which used to be a theatre and a bank and was offered for lease late last year, could incorporate live music.
An idea suggested at last week's meeting was subsidising developers who converted disused public buildings into live-music venues.
Mr Day, also Planning Minister, said this could be looked at because bonuses were already available for developments that derived some public benefit out of adapting old buildings.
But he said subsidising licensed venues that hosted a certain number of gigs a year was "probably . . . a long shot".