Live music is an economic, social and cultural asset

Perhaps I’m naive, but I did not anticipate the NSW government’s latest move in the war on live music.

We have people offering their services to test pills at festivals, but our Premier Gladys Berejiklian doesn’t like that idea. So, instead, we’re getting complex, onerous new regulations for music festivals (some details have been reported). A few festivals have cancelled their 2019 events, citing the large cost of compliance with the new regulations as the reason for shutting down.

Who else is affected by these rules? The Illawarra Folk Festival is uncertain where it stands.

I’ve been a performer at the last couple of Honk! Oz street music festivals, which is connected to an international network of Honk Festivals which showcase activist street bands. It’s also a Fringe event of the Illawarra Folk Fest. Gladys should get herself down to Wollongong next year to check it out. It’s heaps of fun, there’s next to no risky behaviour and a lot of sweet tunes.

Riff Raff Radical Marching Band

Photography courtesy of the 2015 Book of Honk! Oz

Interestingly, the Tamworth Country Music Festival and Sydney Festival are specifically exempt from the new festival rules. Bluesfest got an assurance that the new rules “aren’t aimed at you”. That’s about the most tone-deaf thing Gladys could have said in response to Bluesfest’s concerns, and shows that she doesn’t understand the situation at all, and has no concept of solidarity.

We performers of folk, protest and orchestral music are going to keep supporting our friends in popular music and the dance festival scenes, because we support art in all its forms, not just the forms that we personally create or prefer.

The arts community will not be divided and conquered like this, because that’s not how it works.

The NSW Liberal Government has reached its use-by date. Vote for the James Jansson Team for New South Wales on the 23rd of March.


Andrea Leong

is part of the James Jansson Team for NSW Legislative Council (state upper house).