Australia News: Sydney Plots Comeback, Tours, Support Act & More

– Michael Rodrigues and NSW minister Stuart Ayres

Sydney Takes Major Steps To Reclaim Being 24-Hour Global City 

The New South Wales (NSW) government took more steps to reclaim Sydney as a 24-hour global city that would draw entertainment, tourism, investment and jobs.

It announced Feb. 9 the scrapping of the last of its controversial lockout laws, and appointed its inaugural 24-hour economy commissioner. Both go into effect in March.

The final lockout laws lift March 8 from one-time red light Kings Cross precinct, after authorities were satisfied assault rates dived sufficiently. Clubs now open until 3 a.m., without post-midnight drinks restrictions and costly security.

Lockout laws in Sydney’s CBD and the Oxford Street strip were earlier relaxed January 2020.

NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian said, “Kings Cross has transformed considerably since these laws were introduced over six years ago.

“The precinct is now well positioned to continue to evolve into a vibrant lifestyle and cultural destination with a diverse mix of small bars, live music venues and restaurants.”

The live sector also changed its mood, from outrage and mass rallies as clubs closed, to accepting live entertainment was not confined to clubs where alcohol played a large role. 

The first 24-hour economy commissioner is Michael Rodrigues, chair of the Night-Time Industries Association and managing director of nightlife listing Time Out magazine.

Rodrigues spearheads a program through which the government works with councils and industry to activate hubs across Sydney, each with their own character, nurture diverse night businesses, and encourage safe healthy behavior.

Minister for jobs, investment, tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, emphasized each of these “neon grids” would be connected with efficient public transport. Rodrigues said the strategy was to “deliver a nightlife that’ll sit alongside New York, London and Tokyo.”

– Eden Park

New GM For Darwin Entertainment Centre

Darwin Entertainment Centre, the northern city’s largest entertainment venue, hired Mike Harris as its new general manager, effective March.

He was CEO for seven years at the Perth-based West Australian Music association, during which time he U-turned its finances, and increased government and corporate funding and support for women, First Nations and regional artists.

His tenure begins as authorities allowed the DEC to return to 100% capacity because of its COVID-safe strategies. Board chairman David De Silva called the venue “a significant community asset, the hub of arts and entertainment in the (Northern) Territory and a supportive and welcoming place for local talent to be developed and showcased.”

– Live, Loud & Local

More Tours Line Up, Festivals Return

Live Nation resurrected its national Live, Loud & Local series in partnership with Coopers Brewery. The next round from March 11 will include rock band Birds of Tokyo, rapper Baker Boy and new jack swingers Client Liaison. LN’s president of brand and marketing partnerships for Australia & New Zealand, Greg Segal said, “Coopers is demonstrating a real commitment to supporting local artists and venues, via the Live, Loud and Local series. The industry couldn’t ask for a better partner during these challenging times.”

INXS member Andrew Farriss heads out behind the March 19 release of his roots-themed debut solo album on BMG with a 13-date club run April 9 to May 28.

Frontier Touring booked multi-platinum rock band Eskimo Joe for seven dates in March and April 2022, playing their classic albums Black Fingernails, Red Wine (2006) and A Song Is A City (2004) back-to-back for the first time.

The Strawberry Fields festival in regional NSW Oct. 29-31 sold out in the first hour, leading promoter Tara Benny to note how it was missed during a 2020 covid-caused hiatus. It normally draws 9,000.

Leigh Carmichael, creative director of Tasmania’s edgy Dark Mofo festival said his team is “very, very committed” to bringing it back in mid-winter after last year’s cancellation.  It usually sells 100,000 tickets and an estimated A$50 million ($38.7 million) in tourism benefits.

Support Act Awards $4m In Crisis Relief Grants

The music industry’s charity Support Act revealed it awarded A$4 million ($3.1 million) in pandemic relief grants to 1,335 artists, crew and music workers through to end of 2020. A Christmas appeal helped 1,204 individuals and families through food vouchers worth A$350,000 ($271,460).

In his report, CEO Clive Miller acknowledged that album and merch sales and downloads from Michael Gudinski’s star-studded April 9 2020 Music From The Home Front concert on free-to-air Nine Network raised A$207,730 ($161,115). The sale of Australian Road Crews Association’s Desk Tape series of shows recorded by road crews added thousands of dollars more for crews.

Funding from government and American Express Music Backers contributed to counseling and mental wellbeing workshops, with the credited Mental Health First Aid Training for workers just commenced.

Bluesfest Sideshows, Groovin’ The Moo, Delayed To 2022

With Australia’s borders still closed to most international arrivals, Bluesfest Byron Bay will stage with an all-Australian bill April 1 to 5 this year. 

But theatre and club sideshows by George Benson, Patti Smith and Her Band, Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, Larkin Poe and The Wailers were postponed to April 2022.

Continually changing state border restrictions saw national regional Groovin’ The Moo tour rescheduled to 2022. But Cattleyard Productions is still holding reduced capacity shows with local acts at each of the sites, across eight weekends August to October.

– Groovin The Moo

Eden Park Green-Lit For Concerts

Auckland’s Eden Park, New Zealand’s largest stadium – with a sell-out capacity of 50,000 – was given the green-light to host six concerts a year. “We are now working closely with local and international promoters to secure artists for Auckland immediately,” said CEO Nick Sautner.

The proposal received strong support, not only from promoters who noted its proximity to the city and public transport, but residents, local businesses, sporting organizations and schools.