Australia: Neil Cox Named Palais Theatre GM, Spark Arena Rolls Out Zero-Waste Strategy, Music Biz Responds To Qantas Dropping In-Flight Music

Neil Cox
– Neil Cox
New Palais Theatre GM Neil Cox with recipients of the venue

New GM Announced For LN’s Melbourne Palais Theatre
Neil Cox is general manager of the Melbourne Palais Theatre, Live Nation announced Sept. 24. He joins from the Isaac Theatre Royal in Christchurch, New Zealand, where he has been general manager and chief executive since 2008.  
He spearheaded discussions with local and national government to restore and get the venue operational again in the wake of the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes.
In a 30-year career, Cox worked at EMI Music and ran his own concert promotions business. Live Nation Australia CEO Roger Field said Cox’s “extensive experience and incredibly strong relationships within venues, promoters and producers across the Australasian industry which will give him a flying start when he takes the reigns at Melbourne’s beloved and iconic Palais Theatre.”
LN also announced its first round of funding to local community groups and charities, a condition for the promoter landing the 30-year lease from the l City of Port Phillip. Thirteen received up to A$5,000 ($3,632) each, including neighborhood learning centers, theatre and arts groups and schools. The Palais Theatre Community Fund is set to generate about A$100,000 ($72,655.50) to A$120,000 ($87,185) per year into the community, and is funded via a 50-cent donation from LN for every ticket sold for an event at the theatre.  
Promoters Festivals, Artists Send Open Letter To NSW Premier
A number of promoters and festivals joined artists, drug safety and health experts and music associations to tally over 60 signatures in an open letter to the premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, over her actions following two deaths at the Sept. 15 Defqon. 1 EDM festival in Penrith, Sydney. 
Berejiklia promised to ban the festival, and set up an “expert panel” – consisting of the police commissioner, chief medical officer and chair of the liquor licensing authority – to provide advice on whether penalties were sufficient to deter drug peddlers, how festivals can lift their game on safety and determine if drug education was required. Despite calls, Berejiklian refuses to consider pill testing at music events. A poll taken Sept. 20 by New ReachTel for the Sun Herald newspaper found 56.7 percent of 1,627 voters approved of it.
The letter reminded the premier that festivals in the state drew 350,000 a year and boosted tourism dollars and jobs for the employment, and requested that the music industry be allowed to participate in the panel. “Any attempt to address concerns about drug use and public safety at music festivals cannot be effective unless music industry representatives are part of the conversation,” it stated, in part. 
Among the 60-plus signatories were Chugg Entertainment, Bluesfest Byron Bay, Music NSW, Australian Music Industry Network, Peking Duk, Alex The Astronaut, Hermitude, Cattleyard Promotions, Electronic Music Conference, Secret Sounds, Handsome Tours and Fuzzy Operations.
Music Biz Responds To Qantas Dropping In-Flight Music
The music industry reacted to national carrier Qantas’ plans to drop radio and music channels from its in-flight entertainment after “on average less than 10 percent of customers per flight” were tuning in.  Dean Ormston, Sydney-based chief executive of the Australasian Performing Right Association, called it a blow to Australian musicians and songwriters, especially as data showed a rising consumption of Australian music domestically and globally. 
“In their role as the national carrier, Qantas have the opportunity to literally carry Australian stories in Australian voices to the world via their customers, and tell those stories to music loving Aussies as well,” Ormston said.
Virgin Australia used the opportunity to reaffirm its support. “We will continue to find ways to ensure that Australian music is an integral part of our inflight entertainment services,” the airline stated. 
It ticked off its support, including artists hosting two-hour playlists, sponsoring events as the BIGSOUND conference and showcase, and offering musicians 64 kilograms of checked baggage on domestic flights.
New Zealand
Nicki Minaj & Lil Pump to headline NZ’s FOMO By Night
Nicki Minaj and Lil Pump are to headline the FOMO By Night all-ages summer festival at Auckland’s Spark Arena Jan. 9. They are joined by Kali Uchis, Guemsey-born electronic dance producer Mura Musa, Dutch producer San Holo and NZ’s Montell 2099 and DJ duo The Katayanagi Twins.

Spark Arena Interior
– Spark Arena Interior
formerly Vector Arena in Auckland, New Zealand

Auckland’s Spark Arena Rolls Out Zero-Waste Strategy
Auckland’s Spark Arena has switched to 100 percent compostable serve ware for public events. It has begun implementing stage one of its zero-waste strategy, replacing all single-use cups and hot food packaging with plant-based alternatives. 
Spark Arena hosts over 500,000 customers each year, using well over 1 million disposable cups annually. The venue’s design strategist Judith Clumpas said, “It made absolute sense to make a change. If you could see the volume of mess that is left after a concert, you would be truly horrified to realise just how much ends up in landfill.” The new initiative was introduced during Pink’s six-night run, with the 150,000 cups used leaving the venue in a compost truck and not the one heading to landfill.