Furthering its pledge to support the live music industry, the NSW government has rolled out its Venues Unlocked program to increase the number of live performance venues and events, coupled with industry best-practice sound control and management.

In October the Minns administration broached its anti-NIMBY laws that would bolster live music and the people who rely on it for their income.

Venues Unlocked is a $5 million initiative offering funding and support for venues in NSW to address challenges and remove the barriers impacting live performance opportunities. It comprises different funding and support streams for new and existing venues and hospitality businesses.

The program aims to:

  • increase the number of fit-for-purpose live performance venues in NSW
  • increase sector knowledge and expertise in best-practice sound management and sustainable live performance programming
  • build the number of live performance opportunities for NSW residents and artists
  • generate greater live performance diversity and vibrancy in communities.

It is to be delivered through Sound NSW and the Office of the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner, between 1 April and 31 December, 2024.

A key component of Venues Unlocked is the $3 million Live Performance Venue Program, also delivered by the 24-Hour Economy Commissioner.

It offers grants designed to support venues experiencing sound complaints or restricted from presenting live music due to insufficient sound mitigation measures. 

Key program outcomes include reducing the impact on neighbours, leading to less complaints and increased business viability, but generally it seeks to:

  • connect existing hospitality venues with subject-matter experts
  • facilitate networking between venues, artists, agents and media
  • build industry capacity to diversify existing hospitality venues to offer live performance
  • increase sector knowledge and expertise in vision and business model alignment
  • assist essential audio-visual equipment and sound management
  • assist live performance programming, audience development and marketing
  • provide funding for live performance equipment purchase and install, and start-up programming and marketing costs

Activities to be funded include capital works related to improved sound management, such as:

  • installing acoustic insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors
  • installing acoustic glazing
  • installing sound-absorbing materials such as heavy drapes or carpet
  • installing acoustic or air-lock doors or sealing gaps in doors and windows
  • plans or architectural drawings for the venue for any proposed acoustic attenuation measures
  • capital investment in sound equipment where a sound attenuation need can be evidenced
  • capital investment in staging support and room design to reduce sound emission

Eligible music venues can apply for grants up to $100,000 for sound mitigation measures, and will receive an acoustic report provided by Sound NSW.

Eligible are live music venue owners and operators with a maximum patron capacity of 600.

Organisations that do not satisfy the eligibility requirements, including venues with more than 10 gaming machines, may not apply.

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