Hands-on

Starting to really REALLY do my documentary now. I’ve got some interviews on the way, and have already taken some photographs for my documentary. So far, so good…. but I think post-production is going to be a real killer!

Anyway, I realize I haven’t been blogging much about my documentary progress so far, so here’s an introduction, and some updates on my documentary and the community and conflict that I will be focusing on …

In August 2009, the Government introduced a legislation to Parliament to amend the Liquor Control Reform Act, proposing three new categories for liquor licenses i.e. late night, restaurant & cafe, and major events, and for each category to appropriately provide the necessary authority (e.g. security guards or bouncers) depending on the ‘risks’ associated with each category. With these new amendments, higher fees would be introduced, not including the new need to hire ‘necessary authority’. These details can be found in the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS), and replaced the previous Liquor Control Reform Regulations 1999 which expired on 15 February 2010.

In short, the new laws required venues featuring amplified live music to have a minimum of two security guards. The Tote, an iconic music venue in Collingwood has, since the 1980s, had a reputation for showcasing new and emerging independent music artists and when they closed down in January 2010 due to the inability to keep operating financially under the new liquor laws, the music community in Victoria stood up for action (source).

On the 17th of January, about 2,000 people rallied outside the Tote. Call for action spread on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter, and dozens of groups were created to spread awareness and gain members in a call for action against the new liquor laws that were threatening not only the Tote, but other music venues as well. On February 23, when the new licensing laws were announced, up to 20,000 people gathered in front of the State Library for the S.L.A.M. (Save Live Australian Music) rally. Among them were famous musicians Tim Rogers, Missy Higgins, and Paul Kelly:

….Kelly summed up the sentiment by saying “you don’t learn how to write a song at school or RMIT. These venues were my university”.

(source)

Independent musicians and music lovers alike joined in to sign a petition – ‘Fair Go 4 Live Music‘ – and 22,000 signatures were collected. The petition was brought up to Parliament on the 1st of April 2010, and now venues can appeal and apply for a reversal of the restrictions… but applications will be dealt with one-by-one. So far, the George Hotel in Hamilton and the Lomond Hotel in East Brunswick has had their licenses reviewed and the high-risk security conditions rolled back. The Tote’s previous owner has had to sell the venue to pay off debts, and the new licensees are waiting for their own review to be approved (source).

I wish I was there during the rally, but at the time, I wasn’t even in Melbourne! I learned about it later on from friends in the scene, and from reading the news. It was quite inspiring reading about the SLAM rally and the events that followed it… learning about how 2,000 people gathered because of their love and loyalty to the Tote, and later on learning about how 20,000 people came together to protest against the laws that were threatening their love for music, their culture, their ‘home’ (small music venues are typically the only places where new independent artists have the chance to showcase their talent) was really moving and just left me in awe. 20,000 people is a LOT of people, and that is a LOT of supporters, and that creates a very big and united community.

Hence, conflict is not necessarily harmful to integration. In this case, especially, it has built stronger identities within a community, and has built unity and integrity among a community of musicians and music lovers previously dispersed across Victoria. It has even sparked the formation of new groups and new alliances, and until now, the community is growing strong and gaining more support.

I’ve contacted someone from SLAM & Music Victoria, and I’m so grateful that they’re being so helpful with my documentary. I haven’t got a hold of Bruce Milne (the previous owner of the Tote Hotel), though, but hopefully he’ll agree to appearing in my documentary. For now, I’ve drawn up a lot of ideas for the documentary and have asked some friends for permission to use their photos or music (for background music, maybe?) for the documentary, and am excited to see what my interviewees have to say about the music scene!!!

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