In my social media feed it has been hard to avoid the statements and reports around the Live music scene in Newcastle this past week. Big thanks to Grant Walmsley (formerly of The Screaming Jets) for using his public profile to get the public talking about a defining issue for the future of Newcastle.
“There is a real fear I can’t overstate that live music will be gone. Not difficult to find in places, not anything less than gone from this town. That’s a seriously scary, sweeping statement. It’s dramatic. But it’s true.” Grant Walmsley
I was left thinking about the line in Jurassic Park about how "Life will find a way"...why?
Well, life is an evolution. Both in our own lives and life altogether.
I am 100% pro Live music! I agree, more should be done to protect businesses that supply live music to the community and have always agreed with the notion of "agents of change" and the idea that new residents shouldn't have the ability to make complaints about sound if it was already there before they moved in.
But....of course there was going to be a But!
But, why does the music scene need to be in the inner city where it has always been?
The city is evolving, some would argue gentrifying to suit an ageing population that has long wanted to move into the city, but then once they get there they want it to just shhhh a little bit cause, well, you know #oldpeoplethings
And in some ways that is fine, they've worked hard as baby-boomers to cash up and now they want to enjoy some retirement years in the centre of it all.
Here is the opportunity, music venues closing isn't necessarily a threat, it is actually an opportunity for creativity. Ask not what the city can do for you, but what you can do for the city. Sure, there is this new fancy University building in the heart of the city, but there is also this gigantic campus out at Callaghan and guess what? There is plenty of land nearby that you could be nice and loud and not get the complaints.
1. Warabrook Industrial Estate is just a short walk over the train-line
2. Steel River Industrial Estate isn't much further
3. The University itself - Bar on the Hill was once the touring stage for many an international musician and it is heavily rumoured that in 2018 this will be coming back
4. Shortland Golf Club (it is right next door to the Uni) I'm betting no-one is using it!
5. Bring back the Doof (but seriously, pop-up events are always great)
These are just the options I thought of this week in relation to all of this, I'm sure there are more even more awesome options available.
The point is, sure, music is the beating heart on which much on what makes Newcastle awesome was built, but maybe it is time to shake things up.
Council does a lot of great things, but I'm not sure they'll take the lead on this. A report or strategy document might be great for building policy against, but it is the public that need to create action. It is us who will lead the change.
I put it to you if you are in agreeance that Newcastle needs Live Music, when was the last time you went to a show? If you aren't supporting live music now, why expect it in the city in the future...