The Wollongong music scene is changing. No longer are there one or two main venues where musicians meet and play, but a smattering of smaller spaces, dispersing musos and fans throughout the city.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At last year’s inaugural State of the Music Scene forum, a key talking point was the lack of places to play. Since then, venues such as The Patch, Dicey Rileys and Yours & Owls have stepped up to ensure the scene continues to thrive.
Rob Carr, co-organiser of the upcoming 2012 forum, says there have been improvements since the first meeting in April 2011.
‘‘The forum last year was like a wake for the Oxford [Tavern, which had shut down six months prior]. Since that time, the music scene hasn’t fractured so much as the places people go have fractured; there are more venues and it seems more dispersed,’’ he says.
However, new sorts of venues have given rise to a range of other issues. Carr says many bands, fans and venue operators have reported an increased hostile police presence at gigs.
Local filmmaker Jessie Hunt agrees. She will be speaking at the forum about the film she has made on the issues the Wollongong music scene faces and says a main concern bands and venue operators address is the perception that they are young punks out to cause trouble.
‘‘The police are acting on that and going into youth spaces and going in and really knuckling down on them,’’ she says.
While there have been many positive steps by Wollongong City Council to include live music in plans to revitalise the city centre, Carr says several incidents have arisen, such as a pop-up gig at gallery Good Jelly earlier this year receiving fines, because people are getting conflicting information about what they can and can’t do.
‘‘The first step is to get a discussion going,’’ Carr says.
‘‘Whatever that plan of action looks like, whether it’s a live music accord or a memorandum of an understanding between live music and council and the police. The hard bit is to start the process.’’
Adam Jordan, chief engineer at Main Street Studios in Fairy Meadow, has been running initiatives to bring bands together and thinks musicians need to do more to promote their local gigs.
‘‘At the moment lots of bands advertise on Facebook and think they’re done,’’ he says.
At a show Hunt went to recently, only six people turned up to watch a musician who had sold out nearly all his Sydney shows.
‘‘There’s lots of dialogue going on between bands, but that dialogue isn’t reaching people in the broader community.’’
Carr and Glenn Haworth, from Haworth Guitars, would like to see more online street press and bands approaching local businesses for their support.
All are welcome at the State of the Music Scene Forum 2012 at 7pm, October 30, at Music Farmers, 5Crown Lane, Wollongong.