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Image courtesy of Save Live Australian Music (SLAM), taken by Amber O'Grady.


Agent of change - A Melbourne case study

You'll Discover:

  • How agent of change could protect your venue’s rights.
  • How did it come about?
  • What can venues learn from this example.

‘Agent of change’ is a principle adopted by the Victorian state government in 2014. While the New South Wales government have not adopted this principle, City of Sydney have started preparing for new planning controls around entertainment management.This comes after feedback received during the consultation process for City of Sydney’s Development Control Plan (DCP) review in late 2018, which formed the basis for their ‘Open and Creative City, planning for the culture and the night-time economy’ plan.


What is ‘agent of change’?

Image of a tall wooden fence with with the words Live Music Lives Here painted on it.t
Image credit to D.A.Calf

According to Music Victoria, ‘agent of change’ is a principle that was assimilated into planning law. It’s purpose is to “impose obligations on the ‘agent of change’, for example a residential developer, with respect to noise from live music performance across Victoria, and aims to protect live music venues from residential encroachment.”

The developer is required to include measures to reduce the noise impact on their prospective residential developments if the location falls within 50 metres of an existing live music performance venue.

It must be noted that Planning Victoria states: “this does not mean however that any other person living or working in an area is free of any responsibility for noise management. Everyone has a role in noise management, including existing permit holders and live music entertainment venues.”

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How did ‘agent of change’ come about?

Key organisations that sparked the introduction of this policy include Save Live Australia’s Music (SLAM), Fair Go 4 Live Music and Music Victoria.

Early 2010 saw a sweep of policies brought up by the Victorian government which, amongst other things, insisted that every venue regardless of size would be required to hire security personnel if they were putting on any kind of live music. This was seen by many in the community to be quite drastic.

A subsequent rally was organised. Lead by SLAM, it saw approximately 20,000 march through the streets of Melbourne in protest. Check out the YouTube clip here.

The result of this action was the Live Music Agreement. Signed by the three original organisations as well as the Minister for Gaming and Consumer Affairs and the Director of Liquor Licensing, it included the following requirement, “Consultation and discussion will continue between the Government and Music Victoria to progress other longer term goals regarding the promotion of live performance, such as: Recognition and implementation of the agent of change principle during 2011 […]”

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What can venues learn from this example?

‘Agent of change’ (though not adopted in NSW as of September 2019) does have some support from figures in NSW. This includes political parties such as The Keep Sydney Open Party, leaders of the Australian Hotels Association NSW and the Solotel hospitality group as well as public support through responses and feedback to the City of Sydney’s ‘Open and Creative City, planning for culture and the night-time economy’ discussion paper.

While in this stage of deliberation, there are a number of things you can continue can continue to do to avoid noise complaints:

  • Maintain agreed levels of noise (in the City of Sydney Local Government Area, they specify “a licensed venue as measured at the edge of a residential property should not exceed the background noise level by 5 decibels (dB).”
  • Ensure event duration doesn’t continue past curfew - best to consult City of Sydney if you’re not sure.
  • Encourage patrons, performers and staff to exit the venue quietly through signage and even through announcements made by performers.
  • Possibly put up signs, similar to these in Shoreditch, London (courtesy of CityMetric).

Image of a warning sign on a brickwall in Shoreditc, London. It reads Warning! Property buyers beware this neighbourhood has a busy, noisy night time economy. More than three thousand people use this street on an average weekend. Think before you buy.
Warning sign in Shoreditch, London courtesy of CityMetric.
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