Adelaide toasts “great outcome” for live music

Sanity has prevailed in South Australia tonight with the passing of the Small Venue Licence bill.

According to reports in The Australian, liquor licences may now be granted to small venues with a capacity of 120 or fewer, with parliament removing the previously onerous right of nearby residents or existing hotels to object.

The news is particularly good for the city’s live music scene. Small venues will now be able to offer live entertainment without having to apply for separate approval. Under the old system, “entertainment consent” was required for a “dance, performance, exhibition or event”, meaning you could watch TV and drink in a pub without consent but performing, exhibiting art, screening films or dancing required council permission.

The news was welcomed by live music lobby group SLAM who described it as a “great outcome for future small gigs in Adelaide” in a statement sent to FL tonight. “Both SLAM and Raise The Bar were recognised in the parliamentary speeches for continued campaigning and gathering community support for the bill. Live music policy discussion is currently going on in SA, VIC and NSW; a far cry from three years ago.”

The situation looked to be on shaky ground last week after the Liberal party said they’d block the bill if the right to object was removed and capacity wasn’t capped at 80 patrons. But earlier this evening Liberal MP Stephen Wade said his party would support the bill without amendments.

In an op-ed published on FL last week, Sound Australia’s recently appointed National Live Music Coordinator Dr Ianto Ware said the Small Venue Licence debate brought to a head a perceived fissure within Adelaide. “On the one hand, there’s the old guard, who like using the word ‘vibrancy’ but still believe there needs to be a permission slip for those who wish to dance, exhibit, perform or play music. And then there’s people who think that’s a bit of an outrage. The progress of the Small Venue License through parliament has become a litmus test as to which camp now exercises control over South Australia.”

The new licences will be limited to Adelaide’s CBD initially, with planning authorities expecting some 20 small bars to open over the coming years.