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Live music to be included as part of the post-COVID-19 economic stimulus for Wollongong

Read the article by Brendan Crabb, Illawarra Mercury 13 May 2020

Live music to be included as part of the post-COVID-19 economic stimulus for Wollongong


The Wollongong Greens recently called for "ten weeks of live music" as part of the city's economic stimulus plan after coronavirus pandemic restrictions are eventually lifted.

Greens councillor Mithra Cox last week proposed that Wollongong City Council would subsidise local bars and cafes to pay musicians to perform over a 10-week period, to encourage people to come back into the central shopping districts.

The subsidised live music proposal was tabled at Monday night's extraordinary council meeting, as part of a discussion regarding council's draft budget.

At the meeting, council resolved to place its draft revised Delivery Program 2018-2022 and Operational Plan on public exhibition until June 9.

It was also moved that as part of the draft budget, council redirect the net revenue from parking meters in the city centre towards enhanced city centre activation and marketing initiatives that support regional and local economic recovery from COVID-19.

As part of this, Cr Cox successfully moved an amendment to the draft budget, to ensure that subsidies for live music are included as part of council's stimulus package.

Councillors voted that the 'City Centre Reactivation Fund' be used, post-COVID, to include a budget to stimulate the 5pm to midnight economy.

Wollongong council would also explore opportunities to subsidise arts and cultural events in the CBD, especially live music provided by local musicians.

Cr Cox said this initiative would provide a welcome financial boost for two industries - performance and hospitality - who had been among the hardest hit during the pandemic and bushfires.

"The details are yet to be finalised, but we would like to see a model where venues book artists, and receive a wage subsidy from council for all gigs with no cover charge, where musicians are paid at or above the award," Cr Cox said.

"Live music is a very effective stimulus, because the impacts are triple fold.

"Not only does in pay musicians who have been hit hard first by bushfires and now by the pandemic, but it also helps bars and cafes get back on their feet, and provides a compelling reason for people to come back to the CBD."