Music Victoria, the organisation set up by the Victorian Labor Government last year to appease the community outcry over harsh live music venue licensing laws and the subsequent music community outrage, has secured funding to continue – for a while. In the wake of this week’s Victorian Liberal Government budget, Music Victoria has received $500,000 funding over the next two years.
‘’Music Victoria is thrilled with the core funding commitment which will help us capitalise on the inroads we have made in the last year,’’ says Music Victoria CEO, Patrick Donovan.
‘’We appreciate that the Premier, The Hon. Mr Baillieu, has taken on the arts portfolio and when we met with him recently he spoke passionately about Victoria’s thriving arts scene. Music Victoria echoes the Premier’s comments that arts and culture are integral to our identity and we will continue to deliver tangible outcomes for our talented musicians and the supporting industry.’’
Alas, this funding has disguised savage budget cuts to other important music programs that had been existing in Victoria. Influential news website Crikey reports “The popular 7-year-old $2.4 million FReeZACentral program — which offers training workshops and rock star mentoring for struggling jobseekers — will wind up on June 30. And $1.3 million in popular music equipment grants, that allowed a “bank” of musical equipment to be hired by aspiring under-26 rock pigs, was also junked.” In further disturbing news, Crikey also reports that the axe has been taken to the Victoria Rocks program, stating “Instead, a bare-bones Victoria Rocks program will be maintained by the Baillieu government over the next three years with funding of just $2.6 million.”
After the highly successful SLAM Rally many political parties proclaimed to be acting in the best interests of live music in the state. But action speak louder than words and The Greens who presented the petition to Parliament asking for the removal of the link between live music and violence, ended up being the same outfit who abstained from voting in the Victorian Senate therefore defeating that legislation. And after a few dollars were thrown around in a quick fix it was also forgotten by some how we had got to where we were in the first place under the Labor government.
Despite this some organisations remain partisan and alas, these cuts could be interpreted as the result of music organisations in Victoria aligning themselves this way prior to the last state election. While all organisations which are publicly funded must at least present a politically non-aligned image to retain their credibility, funding and to also be able to represent the people they are entrusted to do so (i.e. the musicians and music fans of Victoria), if they appear to suddenly support one party people will smell a rat.
The question can now be asked – has the inability of publicly funded representatives of the music community to remain non-partisan in politics fucked the people they were supposed to represent? Tone Deaf’s Editor editorialised on this issue on the eve of the Victorian election last year warning that succumbing to election pork barrelling could put the recent achievements of the SLAM Rally at risk should the ALP lose the forthcoming election.
Alas, apart from the window dressing of Music Victoria receiving continued funding for the next two years, it appears that Government funding for rock n’ roll in Victoria has gone down the drain. Music fans in Victoria now must call upon those organisations purporting to represent them to account for themselves. We must also hold The Liberals accountable for their political positioning prior to the election. Was it all just a cheap ploy to garner a few votes?
The question has to be asked however, has funding dried up due to aligned organisations pushing personal political motivation, therefore creating a self-fulfilling prophecy with The Liberals? And if so should the hard earned tax dollars we pay to the government now be deployed to areas other than rock n’ roll as a result of their at best, political naiveté?