Singer with guitar performing

Venues and hospitality businesses can unlock more entertainment opportunities under an initiative to install soundproofing and support them with skills and training to host live music.

The program, which will entail co-investment with the venues, includes two funding and support streams for established and emerging venues:

  • Soundproofing Grants for Live Music Venues: A $2-million program delivered by Sound NSW for eligible live music venues to apply for grants of up to $100,000 to enable industry-best practice sound management. This includes infrastructure improvements and capital works, new equipment and other sound mitigation measures as identified by acoustic performance reports.
  • Live Performance Venue Program: A $3-million program with two phases, delivered by the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner.
    • Phase one: Live Performance Venue Accelerator. Eligible hospitality businesses (cafes, clubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, distilleries, breweries) interested in diversifying into live performance venues can develop skills, confidence and capacity through specialist workshops, covering marketing, programming and essential equipment training.
    • Phase two: Live Performance Venue Grant Program. $1.6 million in grant funding to give eligible hospitality business access to expert advice and grant funding up to $80,000 to embed skills and support.

Jointly delivered by Sound NSW and the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, the Venues Unlocked Program is part of the NSW Government’s proposed Vibrancy Reforms which aim to support live performance and provide increased confidence and flexibility for the hospitality and creative sectors.

“We’re on a mission to support future live performance and music venues in NSW so they can focus more on customer experience and reap the benefits of hosting live performance,” stated NSW’s 24-Hour Economy Commissioner Michael Rodrigues.

“We’ve also learnt through our Uptown program that there’s a lot to be gained by building the capability of the sector and then supporting that skills development with grant funding. It’s excellent to be partnering with Sound NSW to really focus on rebuilding our grass roots performance culture. It means more options for consumers when it comes to a night out.”

Emily Collins, interim head of Sound NSW laid out the importance of such programs to venues, the live music industry and their local communities.

“This much-needed program will provide a boost to the State’s vital live music ecosystem by supporting venues to access expert acoustic advice and necessary soundproofing upgrades. Better sound mitigation will help venues open their doors to more local and touring artists, while ensuring a carefully considered approach to impacts on their community,” stated Collins.

“High quality venues are the backbone of a strong live music and performance industry, and this program aims to lay a solid foundation for a new era of revitalisation.”

The Vibrancy Reforms are expected to cut through the current tangle of red tape and see just one set of laws for noise disturbance complaints about live music and performance venues, a higher threshold imposed for complaints to progress, and no avenue for a single complainant to force closure of a venue.

“We’ve already lost half our live music venues in NSW. I’m talking to five or six of the best operators who survived the era of lockouts and lockdowns but may not survive noise complaints,” stated Minister for the Arts and Minister for Music and the Night-time Economy John Graham.

“Here’s one practical way we can help venues to survive and to back our live music industry.”

Applications for the Venues Unlocked grants opened on 13 November 2023. Full details for both streams of the program are available here.

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