For Melbourne’s live music fans, the Tote Hotel remains dead. But its passing has not been in vain.
The state government today committed $250,000 Australian ($223,000) in funding for the newly-created music lobby body Music Victoria. The government’s financial support is a nod to the local industry’s concerns over toughened liquor licensing rules that have resulted in the closure last month of live music icon the Tote Hotel, and a spate of other pubs pulling the plug on their live music programming.
“Music Victoria will provide a unified voice and will play a role in advocacy and industry development by providing support services for music makers and small businesses as well as a knowledge-hub and on-line resources,” commented Victoria’s arts minister Peter Batchelor on the government’s boost. “But most importantly, Music Victoria will celebrate and promote our fantastic contemporary music scene.”
The cash injection comes after more than 200 members of the Victorian music community met Tuesday (Feb. 16) to discuss how Music Victoria would play an integral part in the future development and protection of Victorian contemporary music.
Venue operators have warned that oppressive “high risk” conditions, hiked license fees and extra security costs are laying waste to the grassroots live music landscape.
Those warnings reached fever pitch when the Tote Hotel closed its doors in January, in doing so becoming the highest-profile casualty of the hardline rules. The Tote’s proprietor Bruce Milne warned at the time, “I can’t afford to keep fighting [the Director of] Liquor Licensing. The ‘high risk’ conditions they have placed on the Tote’s license make it impossible to trade profitably.”
Music Victoria was established earlier this month following a music industry round table with the state premier, John Brumby. Frontier Touring managing director Michael Gudinski, venue owners Jon Perring and the Musicians’ Union of Australia federal secretary Terry Noone were among the music industry’s representatives in the meeting.
The point man at Music Victoria is committee member Peter Chellew, who is also executive office of state-wide, not-for-profit youth entertainment organization the Push.
A detailed strategic plan for Music Victoria will be rolled out over the next six months.