Live music venues in Sydney may no longer have to close the bar between 4 a.m. and 10 a.m. as the NSW Government plans to reinvigorate the night time economy.
Discounted liquor licensing fees are also a possibility.
It wants to make Sydney a global 24-hour city, again; and entice new operators to replace the venues that didn’t make it through the pandemic lockdown or the crippling six-year lockouts at its own hands.
Both proposals are included in a survey in which the government is looking for feedback as an overhaul of liquor licensing rules.
Hospitality and Racing CEO James Hebron said the government wants to make it easier for across-the-board licensed premises to start and grow by cutting red tape and reducing the number of liquor licences required to run a hospitality business.
“The new model proposes to align planning and liquor licensing approval processes to reduce overlap and duplication,” Hebron said.
“It also proposes we adopt a ‘licence builder’ approach, to enable licensees to expand and diversify their offerings, through extensions that can be added to a basic licence.
“These proposed reforms will not only make it easier to do business, they will reduce licensing costs and ultimately boost business’ bottom line,” he added,
Liquor & Gaming NSW explained that the 24/7 trading hours would come from creating a further special primary business activity of “entertainment: live and creative”.
It expanded, “For example, newly licensed spaces that are primarily used for live entertainment and for supporting other creative endeavours in their communities could be exempt from having to comply with the six-hour closure period …when they are hosting a live music performance or other arts or cultural event that is running during the closure period.”
These cultural events could include late night theatre shows, art exhibitions or poetry readings held in music venues.
“This would allow new live and creative entertainment venues to establish and trade 24/7 for certain events that contribute to a vibrant 24-hour economy,” the organisation said.
The promoter would have to include this new category in their application, and provide advance notice of the event to L&G NSW, police and the local council.
These venues would be ineligible for take-away liquor sales or gaming.
In the survey, respondents are asked if they supported the creation of a new ‘live and creative entertainment’ primary business activity; the exemption of new music venues from the six-hour closure; and what ideas they might have to foster new performance spaces.
The review – the first of its kind since the current Liquor Act commenced in 2007—covers pubs, clubs, restaurants, retail and takeaway stores.
It could see extended trading hours of 10 a.m. until midnight seven days a week, and changes that make it easier, cheaper and faster to start and operate a licensed business.
It would generate $250 million over 10 years as a result.
A new risk-based liquor licence model would have more options including “more opportunities for diversity in licensed premises” and “improved temporary licensing options to support more one-off events, pop-up bars”.
It would provide more support for producers as brewers, distillers and wineries to sell their liquor products at “promotional events”.
The NSW Treasury’s “Sydney 24-hour Economy Strategy” in September 2020 found that of changes in nighttime behaviour, 78% wanted activity that did not revolve around alcohol, 83% wanted to socialise in smaller environments, and 83% of the 18-29 age group prefer to spend their money on experiences over material objectives.
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