Updated: Apr 17
NSW Labor's member for Gosford, Liesl Tesch has issued a call to arms to the Central Coast music community as she prepares to begin work on her government's ambitious plan for live music.
NSW Labor took an eye-watering 103 million dollar pledge to the state election - an amount that dwarfs that offered by their counterparts in Victoria and even federally. Crucially, the policy announcement answered the calls of the industry itself, which had campaigned across politics to revive the scene in NSW under the #votemusic tagline.
Speaking to Homebrewed.au, Tesch foreshadowed new opportunities for the Central Coast to grow the local music industry, "There's money here to activate it. I really think it's up to our community to dream it and facilitate it and make it."
Some key highlights of the policy include the establishment of Sound NSW - a dedicated government body that will work in lockstep with the music industry, key interventions to planning and licensing laws, new funding opportunities for artists and events, and actions to protect and revitalise venues across the state.
The night time economy strategy will also be expanded to include Wollongong, Newcastle and The Central Coast.
"Here on the Central Coast, the night time economy is something that we really haven't focused on. It's something we haven't focused on properly across NSW. It's really been a Sydney-centric focus if it has existed at all", Tesch said.
The Government's policy pledge comes at a critical moment for the music and arts industry on the Central Coast, with new levels of investment and energy directed towards the local scene in recent years.
Dedicated live music venues like Drifters Wharf in Gosford and Woy Woy's Link and Pin have provided fresh spaces for both national touring acts and emerging local artists to ply their trade. Meanwhile, Damien Gerard studios in West Gosford and the Grove Studios in Somersby have made the Central Coast a choice destination for some of Australia's greatest musical talents.
Central Coast Council has been in on the act, too.
In 2022, it facilitated the inaugural Central Coast Music Festival and completed upgrades to The Entrance Memorial Park, which has since hosted events like Rolling Sets festival and Girakool Blues Festival.
In a statement to Homebrewed.au, Central Coast Council highlighted its support for local music and the night time economy, "Council understands the importance of live music in strengthening local economies and the creative sector.
"Council is currently preparing a Night Time Economy discussion paper with its aim to explore how to activate and enhance the night time economy on the Central Coast, and create welcoming and creative places for businesses, the local community and visitors after dark."
2022 also saw the establishment of Central Coast Music and Arts (CCMA) - an industry-led association set up to unify, promote and develop the local music and arts scene.
Tesch was quick to credit the work that has already been done, "Drifter's have done an amazing job - they've dreamt it, they've taken the risk and now we're seeing that. But what can we do like that over and over again?"
Indeed, part of the impetus for establishing bodies like CCMA was perceived inaction from government on music and arts on the Central Coast. While it's very early days, a new government in NSW could represent the final piece of the puzzle.
After years of lock outs, lock downs and government neglect, fresh faces in parliament are offering new hope to an industry that has been far more familiar with crisis in recent years.
For the Central Coast, Liesl Tesch believes the stage is set for a new era, "I know there's visions there in people's heads, but making those visions come true and seeing those dreams realised within a four year plan is what I want to be behind, and that's what the money's there for."
Catch our full chat with Liesl Tesch here.
Read the full statement from Central Coast Council below.
Statement from Central Coast Council:
Council understands the importance of live music in strengthening local economies and the creative sector. Council supports local live music through a range of initiatives such as music based programs (Place Maker, Youth and Heard Community projects) large and small events, and in our local theatres and galleries.
Council is currently preparing a Night Time Economy discussion paper with its aim to explore how to activate and enhance the night time economy on the Central Coast, and create welcoming and creative places for businesses, the local community and visitors after dark. Council welcomes other initiatives from government and private businesses, and looks forward to working with them to help drive the night time economy on the Central Coast.