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Speech: Live Music Venue Grants

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: I rise today to reflect on some much-needed good news that has recently been announced for the live music scene in our state: the major boost that many venues will get with the See It LIVE grant. Venues such as the Wheatsheaf Hotel, the Lion Arts Factory, Ancient World, UniBar, Grace Emily Hotel, Broadcast Bar, Jive, The Gov, Semaphore Workers Club, Arthur Art Bar, Rhino Room and Lowife Basement Bar, Woodshed and Murray Delta Juke Joint, Nexus Arts, the Three Brothers Arms in Macclesfield, My Lover Cindi, the Exeter Hotel in the city, Big Easy Radio and Prompt Creative Centre will all enjoy part of that $14 million boost.

One venue that was awarded a grant to help South Australians really see it live will not be able to avail themselves of that grant, because unfortunately Port Adelaide venue Confession will cease operating after this weekend and become a private venue simply for hire. It is a wonderful venue and certainly, for those members who are not aware of it, it puts on an extraordinary array of not just live music but cabaret, burlesque and performance and really brings into the heart of Port Adelaide a much-needed non-screens community activity that is so much needed after COVID.

These live music grants are great, but they do not go far enough. Literally, since COVID, we have lost across this country 1,300-plus small and mid-sized music venues. That statistic comes from the annual report of APRA AMCOS last year. We should be very concerned about the future of live music and live entertainment and the arts in this country as we come out of COVID and the various impacts that that event has had. Indeed, the contribution of the arts and live music to our lives, to our communities and to our culture is irreplaceable once it is gone.

Venues like Enigma or the Tivoli Hotel—the Tiv where I turned 18 at a Hunters & Collectors gig—are now home to apartments and we see the Cranker, the Crown & Anchor, on the line with an obvious and quite understandable significant outpouring of support not just from those bands that got their start at the Cranker but of course from the punters themselves. They know that the cultural worth of the Cranker, the Crown & Anchor, on Grenfell Street is so much more valuable than yet another student apartment block that could be built almost anywhere in the city but will never replace the worth that the arts and live music bring to our city.

Indeed, the Cranker of course has not just been the home to live music; it is the home to comedy nights and other events. While working at the YWCA of Adelaide I certainly held all sorts of events and magazine launches and the like there back in the day. It has been part of our cultural life for so long.

In this state, we have lost The Bakehouse Theatre, which began its life as The Red Shed, and Theatre 62 has suffered multiple robberies of its equipment and is really struggling. As these cost-of-living pressures really put the pinch on people, on families and on our community, it is the arts that are suffering and of course it is not just bread that we need but roses, too.

I warn the government not to take their eye off this issue because, unless we protect these cultural venues, unless we ensure that places like the State Theatre Company and the State Opera have appropriate venues to operate in, unless we have people able to tread the boards and the sticky floors at all levels of the arts ecosystem, we will really see a lack of our state being able to really truly call itself the festival state and have homegrown arts emanating here.

In the Dunstan how-to-vote line, I met Tracey Marsh, who runs Cue Bar. She spent tens of thousands of dollars fighting council rules that sought to close down the operations of her venue from running live music because of people dancing, apparently against the law, near those pool tables more than three times a week. The Cue Bar is just one of so many stories here. We need a round table, we need a task force and we need a serious minister to take this arts crisis seriously.

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