Urban redevelopment, live music and public space: cultural performance and the re-making of Marrickville

TitleUrban redevelopment, live music and public space: cultural performance and the re-making of Marrickville
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2004
Journal TitleInternational Journal of Cultural Policy
Other Author AffiliationsChris Gibson;Shane Homan

This article examines the use and promotion of popular music in inner-city spaces in Sydney. Inner Sydney is currently undergoing rapid gentrification. Residential developers have played upon the reputation of key suburbs as sites of creativity, lifestyle and alternative subcultures focused around main street consumption spaces. Yet, resultant property market rises have threatened the ability of artists, musicians and others employed in the cultural industries to secure affordable housing and spaces for performance. At the same time, Sydney has experienced a decline in live music venues, in part fueled by competing revenue streams for publicans (such as slot machines, trivia nights and karaoke), but also exacerbated by the imposition of more restrictive licensing and regulatory laws. These trends have been the subject of much public debate. In the eyes of many within the creative industries, newer gentrifiers have merely exacerbated this trend through excessive noise complaints and changing consumer preferences that have resulted in a slump in demand for live amplified music. One policy mechanism intended to arrest the decline of live venues is discussed in this article. Marrickville City Council, in Sydney's inner-west, has recently funded a series of free live music concerts in the open spaces it manages in response to a Live Music Task Force established to examine musical performance opportunities in the area. The concerts are deliberately intended as a response to criticisms over the lack of live spaces, but are also part of a wider commitment to celebrate and promote cultural vitality and diversity within the municipality. These policy moves are discussed in this article with regard to the politics of regulating live music spaces, and the role of local government in mediating the cultural impacts of gentrification and urban redevelopment.