What We Do After Dark

February 11th 2016

The Jezabels at FBi Social - by Cai Griffin

Photo: The Jezabels at FBi Social, January 2014, Credit Cai Griffin


In recent days, a statement on social media defending Sydney’s lockout laws was posted by NSW Premier Mike Baird. It has seen the debate around our nightlife blow up. Many artists and creative communities associated with FBi have spoken out about the detrimental impact that these laws are having. As an organisation committed to fostering and supporting Sydney music, arts and culture, it’s a debate that is difficult for us to ignore. Nor should we. FBi exists to support a culturally vibrant city.

Currently, venues are either closing their doors earlier or permanently. That means fewer choices for audiences to engage with a range of artistic practice. It means fewer stages for emerging local talent to perform on and fewer opportunities to break through at home and abroad. It means less diversity in programming, and it means the already difficult task of earning a living as an artist in this city is made even harder.

Culture thrives only through exposure and interaction. When there are fewer opportunities to see and hear and be inspired, culture suffers. Our city suffers.

We understand that the burden of balancing the needs and opinions of Sydney’s many constituents is an unenviable one, and thankfully not one that we have to bear. We don’t have the responsibility of regulating to ensure their safety and the human consequences to face should we get it wrong.

But the flipside is that safety and cultural vibrancy need not be mutually exclusive. If the question is whether safety is more important than cultural vibrancy, it’s hard to argue against safety – it is a fundamental need and human right. But this is a false dichotomy, it does not need to be one or the other. There are regulatory choices that can be made that strike a balance between ensuring safety and supporting a late night economy, and to be a truly world class city we need to be striving to achieve this balance.

We should also acknowledge that a lack of cultural vibrancy cannot be blamed on licensing laws or lock outs alone. We should look to those cities with vibrant late night economies and ask how they do it. We should take responsibility for our cultural lives. We should refrain from throwing our arms up in dismay. We should celebrate, enjoy and support the culture we have.

And we should:

Write to Premier Mike Baird

Tell Mike Baird here that both safety and culture matter to you. And that they needn’t be mutually exclusive. Take some time to think about how this affects you and write a letter in your own words. Acknowledge the impact of these laws on our cultural vibrancy and urge the government to offer solutions.

Keep informed

Read up on the debate. Follow Keep Sydney Open on Facebook.

Go out

Turn up. Fill the bars, galleries, restaurants and live music venues in this city.

The responsibility to create a culturally vibrant city doesn’t sit with our politicians and legislators alone. It also rests with us, as audiences, to support the creative industries we believe in.



Clare Holland is FBi Radio’s Managing Director.

Read more from Clare Holland