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Take a bow, Premier: After-dark economy welcomes plan for night-life czar

A night life boss is set to oversee Queensland’s after-dark economy in a welcome boost for live music following the closure of venues and festivals.

Jun 10, 2024, updated Jun 10, 2024
Singer Kesha performs live on stage at the Riverstage, Brisbane, Thursday, March 3, 2011. (AAP Image/Bradley Kanaris) NO ARCHIVING

Singer Kesha performs live on stage at the Riverstage, Brisbane, Thursday, March 3, 2011. (AAP Image/Bradley Kanaris) NO ARCHIVING

In a move that has already reaped success in NSW, a Night Life Economy Commissioner will be appointed to work with businesses, live music venues and entertainment precincts across Queensland.

“I know small businesses are doing it tough and none more so than arts businesses and live music venues, which are the lifeblood of precincts and communities across the state,” Premier Steven Miles said on Monday.

The move comes as the state’s night life venues struggle to stay afloat amid cost of living pressures including high rents and less consumer spending.

The most recent victim is Brisbane icon The Zoo which is set to close its doors next month after 32 years due to rising operational costs and decreasing returns.

Music festivals are also feeling the pinch with the Caloundra Music Festival cancelling their 2024 event after 17 years following the likes of Groovin the Moo, which took in regional areas including the Sunshine Coast.

Mr Miles said the new commissioner would focus on supporting and enhancing the night time economy and aim to prevent further closures of beloved venues.

“A thriving and safe night time economy means a thriving city– one that keeps our young and brightest in good jobs, delivering for Queensland,” he said.

Cultural sociologist Dr Ben Green said creating a direct point of contact between policymakers and the sector is vital to the night life economy.

“It is really crucial to bring all the different authorities and levels of government and stakeholders together because something like live music involves law and policy at a local level and planning at a state level,” the Griffith University researcher said.

“It is a historic opportunity to actively shape the future and try to support a sustainable and diverse night time economy.”

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Dr Green said having someone with intimate knowledge of the night time industry, which traditionally governments are not set up with, would make a major difference to policy formation.

“Over recent years, we’ve seen things really thrive and grow where there is that point of contact,” he said.

NSW has already introduced a 24-Hour Economy Commissioner who works with government partners, local councils, industry and the community to create a vibrant night life in the state.

The decision came after pressures from COVID-19 and lock-out laws led to spending dwindling in the state.

The government also reformed noise complaint laws, created more night life precincts with extended trading hours for live music and allowed venues to use private outdoor land and car parks for alfresco options.

The reforms have led to an 84 per cent increase in the number of NSW venues hosting performances since 2023.

Victoria also introduced funding to boost music venues and festivals which will provide more paid opportunities to local artists and expand the state’s entertainment events.

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