An Open Letter To The Bourke St Resident Offended By Music Venues
Dear Mr. Edmonds,
This morning I read an article in The Age newspaper about the incessant problems you are having with noise from music venues in the Melbourne CBD with great interest. I too get aggravated when the noisy few have to ruin it for the rest of us.
It must have come as a great shock when you moved from the quiet fringe suburb of Eltham into the CBD of Melbourne only to be confronted with the hustle and bustle of the lively city culture around you.
Most look to move away from that activity as they look for a quiet escape in their twilight years, but I can tell you’ve never been much for following the crowd. You always have been a tad rebellious haven’t you?
So I can imagine your horror when you moved into the 28th floor of your high rise apartment only to realise that the CBD is a central hub for all kinds of late night and noisy culture.
Of course it’s an easy mistake to make, and I can see you have tried to embrace your new surroundings of music venues, bars, restaurants, shops, and noisy lane ways, by spending $14,000 on double glazing for your new apartment so you can really shut all that annoying culture out.
Seriously, who moves inner-city because of the culture anyway? Hippy nonsense.
In reading your plight against these insidious music venues, I couldn’t help but feel for your neighbours who live below the 28th floor you occupy, who no doubt must be dealing with even more noise problems.
So imagine my surprise when I found out that there was only 118 noise complaints to Melbourne City Council in the last financial year linked to music entertainment venues, less than the complaints about noise from building works, barking dogs, and airconditioners.
I can only assume you’ve somehow accidentally moved into a building for the deaf, otherwise I’m sure all your neighbours would be as outraged about this current situation as you are.
As someone who frequents music venues in the city, let me tell you though it’s worse than you could ever imagine. Did you know that most music venues also have airconditioners installed? No doubt they put little consideration into the impact this might have on future retirees moving into the city over the next decade.
I point that out, because as you say residents have rights, regardless of whether the music venue is there first. To quote you directly, “The people who create the music need to consider the neighbours, whether they are new or otherwise.”
You probably have no idea how right you are. Despite Fair Go 4 Live Music’s vigorous campaign to keep music in areas that saw big influxes of new residents, the agent of change principle has yet to be officially adopted by any of the inner-city councils in Melbourne.
Yes that’s right, there are scores of other concerned residents just like yourself, who for years have been moving inner-city to fight the good fight against any music venue who made the mistake of preempting your move into the area.
The agent of change principle is the idea that the party who changes the status quo, that is, they are the agent of the change, is the one responsible for dealing with any problems that arise.
For example, if apartments are built next to an existing music venue, the owners are responsible for sound proofing them, rather than the venue having to do it.
Of course I can see that you too are annoyed by the political paralysis of this issue. After all, if the agent of change principal had been applied, the developer of your building would have covered the $14,000 bill for double glazing your apartment during construction.
No doubt we’ll see you out supporting national SLAM Day so we can get these issues addressed. You remember SLAM right? The rally that saw 20,000 march down Bourke St. in 2010 to protest against the oppressive legislative environment surrounding music venues?
Perhaps you were too busy dialling 000 then too, after becoming fed up with that damn racket going past your apartment while you tried to watch that episode of Today Tonight you had recorded the night before.
At this point you might be thinking, ‘but music venue operators aren’t residents of the city, surely residents rights come first?’ Well, perhaps that’s why they call it the Central Business District, and not the Central Retirement Village.
But I digress. I really must thank you for bringing this ongoing struggle to the attention of thousands of readers of The Age, who have otherwise gone about their lives unaware of the knifes edge many inner-city venues face thanks to a handful of residents who’ve probably read The Princess & The Pea a few too many times.
Thanks to you, maybe next year will be the year that SLAM, Music Victoria, and a host of other passionate music campaigners from the music capital of Australia finally get the ongoing marginalisation of music venues put back on the agenda of local government.
In the meantime, just because you’ve traded in your leafy backyard in suburban Melbourne for an apartment in the heart of the city, doesn’t mean you should have to give up you your god given right to tell those goddamn kids to get off your lawn.
On 23rd February 2010, the SLAM rally saw 20,000 people march through Melbourne to the tune of AC/DC’s definitive ‘Long Way to the Top’, in protest against the Victorian Government’s misguided policy link between live music and violence. Out on the streets of our city, we showed our support and love for a truly great live music community. The SLAM rally was the largest cultural protest in Australia’s history. Now all of Australia has the opportunity to participate in a national event that celebrates our local musicians in our small venues.
Thursday 23rd February 2012, is National SLAM Day and a huge number of gigs are being held around the country to support local artists and venues. You can see a ful gig guide here of the day here. To celebrate our friends at SLAM have got together some of Australia's best musicians and asked them through a series of speech bubble photos what live music in small venues means to them.
Check out their answers on the following pages, and on Thursday help support the industry by getting out and experiencing the spontaneous excitement and intimacy you only get at a small venue. Watch this slideshow »