Updated: Aug 29, 2018
Wickham Park Hotel owner Marcus Wright, AHA Newcastle Hotels Representative Nikki Taylor, Newcastle MP Tim Crakanthorp and Screaming Jets founder Grant Walmsley
Live music venues have long been the lifeblood of Newcastle's night-time economy and at yesterday's Parliamentary Inquiry into Music and Arts Economy in NSW, it was clear that stakeholders within the local music industry will not go down without a fight.
"For decades the Palais Royale provided entertainment to my parents, my grandparents, and it was where I played a Number One hit song that I wrote with The Screaming Jets. Now it is the Southern Hemisphere's biggest KFC," Screaming Jets founder Grant Walmsley said.
"Then there's the Bel-Air. It was one of the best live music venues in NSW, now it's a McDonalds. Make no mistake, our industry is in crisis."
Musician Grant Walmsley and Wickham Park hotelier Marcus Wright address the Inquiry
"For decades the Palais Royale provided entertainment to my parents, my grandparents, and it was where I played a number one hit that I wrote with The Screaming Jets. Now it is the Southern Hemisphere's biggest KFC..."
Formed in March, the Parliamentary Inquiry committee has recently been on an east coast tour of its own, holding sessions in Sydney, Wollongong, Melbourne and Byron Bay before yesterday coming to Newcastle.
"There is a real crisis surrounding live music venues across NSW," Member of the Legislative Council and committee member John Graham said.
"We need to make sure there is a plan in place for the future."
The aim of the Inquiry is to review the state of live music and the arts across NSW, and to look at potential reform that would support a diverse and vibrant music and arts culture across the state.
Identification of additional funding and spaces for music and the arts, and the reduction of red tape around policy and legislation are also identified as key outcomes of the Inquiry.
Australian Hotels Association (AHA), Newcastle Hotels Representative Nikki Taylor attended the Inquiry, along with local AHA members Marcus Wright, owner the Wickham Park Hotel and Big Apachee, and Ian Lobb who has owned and operated the iconic Lass O' Gowrie Hotel for 26 years.
"This was a fantastic opportunity for some of our members to stand up, to be heard, and to really make it clear that current legislation around residential development in Newcastle is having a direct and dire impact on our live music venues, " Nikki said.
"Live music has long been a foundation of Newcastle's identity and culture. Our night-time economy is the second largest economic driver in the city and if we don't speak up now we are in real danger of losing it."