By Andy Young, editor of TheShout

The NSW Government has introduced its Vibrancy Reforms, which have been designed to remove red tape and encourage more live music and local entertainment zones especially at night, with industry widely welcoming the changes including ClubsNSW.

The government is also overhauling regulatory frameworks to prevent single complainants from shutting down venues.

The package of reforms will be introduced to Parliament putting the age of lockouts and over-regulation into the past, with venues that host live music empowered to trade two hours longer under streamlined licensing laws.

The Vibrancy Reforms begin to address an array of hurdles faced by industry while building upon the NSW Liquor Amendment (Night-time Economy) Act 2020. The reforms include:

  • Establishing Liquor and Gaming NSW as the sole regulator of entertainment sound-related complaints for licensed premises, to streamline the complaints process from a current duplicative and multiple agency approach.
  • Expanding the success of the Enmore Road Special Entertainment Precinct to other areas via a new framework for councils that makes it easier for them to deliver vibrant, safe going-out destinations supported by adequate and reliable transport and good lighting.
  • Permanently replacing the rules for outdoor dining allowing venues to make the most of their outdoor space with a quicker, light-touch application process.
  • Empowering the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner to develop a plan to make NSW a better place to work for those who don’t work nine-to-five.
  • Adopting a common-sense approach to risk in relation to liquor regulation, removing outdated rules, and beginning work to streamline planning and licensing processes. This includes improving the consultation process to make it easier for venues to open and diversify, and for communities to have their say, plus meaningful incentives for venues to feature live music and performances.
  • Empowering the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner to deliver a sustainable, thriving night-time economy by making the role a statutory appointment.

ClubsNSW welcomes reforms

ClubsNSW CEO Rebecca Riant said the club industry is passionate about supporting local artists and hosting live music and other entertainment for the benefit of their communities, and that the announced reforms will remove some of the barriers clubs often face when doing so.

“From Dunedoo Sports Club’s annual Tunes on the Turf music festival to the bowling green that Leichhardt Bowling Club has transformed into an outdoor dining and entertainment space, our industry is always looking for new ways to support local artists and businesses, and keep their communities vibrant and engaged,” Riant said.

“We thank the NSW Government for including ClubsNSW in the consultation process for these reforms and for reducing some of the red tape for clubs when it comes to trading and hosting live entertainment. The changes announced will make a huge difference for clubs looking to diversify their offerings and we look forward to working with the government more closely for the betterment of our industry and the broader community.”

Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy John Graham said: “As a government we know we need to change the laws in this state to value music, to value creativity, to support community and to bring back vibrancy.

“We need to change the rules in the planning and liquor laws to save the music and cultural venues we have, and to build more.

“We want to encourage businesses to innovate and put on live performance, by giving them certainty. We want to create a safe and diverse set of options for people when they go out, to go to a pub, to see a show, to get a late-night meal. We want to activate our streets – see people milling on pavements after an exhibition or show, or dancing in the streets at a festival.”

Deputy Premier and Minister for Western Sydney Prue Car said: “The vibrancy package is a whole-of-government priority and we expect to deliver the initial reforms ahead of summer so that venues have the chance to respond and communities, including those in western Sydney, will have more options for music and live entertainment.

“Western Sydney has a multitude of thriving and varied night-life cultures, from areas like Lakemba, which has recently been recognised with a Purple Flag accreditation, to Parramatta, where the Parramatta Lanes festival is showcasing the best in music and food. This package will give businesses the certainty they need to open and continue to entertain Western Sydney residents and visitors.”

Minister for Gaming and Racing David Harris added: “If you speak to any venue, they’ll tell you the regulatory frameworks for sound management and liquor licensing are incredibly confusing and complex and prevent them from trading at their full potential.

“Our reforms slash red tape and streamline processes so businesses can focus on what’s important – delivering a great experience for their customers.

“The number, viability and growth of venues and entertainment and performance spaces has been unduly reduced and restricted by planning, licensing and noise regulatory frameworks that are duplicative, outdated and complex. It’s time to change that.”

The NSW Government is spending in excess of $58m in 2023–2024 on supporting this work and will be seeking co-funding from the hospitality and entertainment sector.

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