I’ve covered the work of Monash University senior lecturer Shane Homan here before, so I was excited when I received an email from John Wardle about a recent new paper from Homan about the Victorian live music rallies.
Entitled “Governmental As Anything: Live Music and Law and Order in Melbourne“, Homan’s new paper is a careful and considered look at the policy background behind the live music venues debate in Australia. As his excellent introduction to the paper obserevs:
Popular music has not historically enjoyed a celebrated place at the policy table of Australian governments. The few strands of popular music policy within Australian arts and cultural infrastructure that have existed have focused on recorded production (small levels of funding assistance for less mainstream recordings) and the protection of those recordings in the local market (radio quotas); or the promotion of Australian recordings overseas (export schemes). Local, live performance circuits, ranging from the large annual festivals and stadium tours to city and suburban bars and clubs, were not considered part of the policy mix for several reasons of history and discourses. Firstly, live, local music performance was not included in the ‘excellence’ criteria determined by successive federal and state governments that funded ‘high art’ musics (opera, classical music, music theatre), where, as Tim Rowse has put it, “funding and a reputation for excellence define[d] each other” (1985: 34). Secondly, governments in turn believed that such an overtly commercial sector of the music industry should exist without assistance, a claim periodically made by the music industry itself, which in the main has detested government interference or subsidy. Thirdly, audience attendance at live performance events has always been strong. And finally, the live music venue has been consistently proclaimed as a successful incubator of jazz, pop, blues and rock acts destined for global success. The Australian pub rock experience in particular has distinguished local product in a global market; the renowned ferocity of bands and ‘punters’ has provided a distinctive regional characteristic to a local industry built upon imported cultural forms.
… where live music has most often appeared is not in the usual debates about selecting the appropriate cultural forms for subsidy, quotas or funding, but in providing sometimes spectacular moral panics that provoke renewed debate about youth behaviour, the scope of night-time economies and the true place of local performance.
You can read the full paper online. Highly recommended.