No doubt you’ve seen the NSW Pill Testing debate raging on for the last couple of weeks. Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s new hardlined policies on drug safety and pill testing has caused countless NSW festivals to speak out against the government, or in the case of PSYFARI and Mountain Sounds, close their doors all together.
One big concern with this move is what it means for the future of Australian music in NSW. Most music festivals, big or small, feature up and coming stages for new bands to get their start. Newer bands are offered the opportunity to be featured alongside internationally known artists, giving them the invaluable chance to be seen and heard by people who don’t frequent smaller pub venues on a Friday night.
Take Mountain Sounds for example. Since their cancellation the other week, a massive gap in the industry has been formed. Not only did they bring music and tourism to the regional central coast, but they prioritised Aus music. Their commitment to giving new bands the opportunity to play a festival stage has helped launch numerous careers over the last few years. Ball Park Music, E^ST, The Jungle Giants, Tkay Maidza, Hockey Dad, all played Mountain Sounds when they had fresh little baby careers.
Restricting the ability for festivals, especially smaller ones that don’t have force the likes of Splendour or Laneway, from being able to hold their events restricts the chances of smaller artist to have their chance. Without encouraging the arts to flourish, we lose one of the best and most vibrant parts of our culture. Sydney’s arts and entertainment culture has died under the repressive force of the lockout laws. We can’t let the rest of the state go with it.
NSW is now a nanny state, pure and simple. Even Vivid Festival last year was condemned for its shitty OTT organising and crowd corralling. Iconic venues continue to close their doors. The state election is on March 23rd. If you think NSW should reestablish itself on the global stage as a cultural hotspot, you know what to do.
Image source: ABC Central Coast