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It’s a big win for the City of Port Phillip’s live music community. Earlier this week local council member Andrew Bond announced the unanimous decision to create a new class of parking permit to allow musicians to park in loading zones outside live music venues while they load or unload equipment.

Cr Andrew Bond commented, "Port Phillip and in particular St Kilda is home to many live music venues. This small and simple change from Council to its parking regulations can help minimise one of the least enjoyable elements of being in a band, which is carrying heavy equipment, and drum kits from a distant car park to the venue."

"Live Music is an important part of the vibrant culture of St Kilda and this tiny change will hopefully make this live music culture just that little bit easier to incubate."

Port Phillip is home to prominent music venues such as Memo Music Hall, The Prince, The Fyrefly, Dogs Bar and The Vineyard all of which have had musicians struggle with legal parking close to the venue when trying to load their gear in.

Port Phillip is now the fourth council to implement this solution, but it was a long process in the making; music promoter Nick Haines explains “When I ran (unsuccessfully) for council of October in 2016, this was one of my election pledges so to work with council on the idea, particularly Councillor Bond was very nice. All 8 Councilors voted yes for the idea and it is nice to have a council united on the side of live music.”

St Kilda Live Music Committee president Suzi Dhol said that the original request from council was to provide each venue in the area with permits for bands to put on the dashboard. “The council will be now also be changing the loading zone signs in St Kilda to say ‘Loading Zone and Musicians’, which is very sweet,” Dhol said.

“The fact it was unanimous is a big plus, because to have everyone across the board support live music is a really big positive for us.”

Individual music venues will need to apply for the Musician Loading Permit, with the flexible permits able to be transferred between performers’ vehicles.

In another win for musicians, an agreement has been reached where Yarra City Council will waive parking restrictions in front of live music venues.

After consultation with the local music community at an open forum on live music in May, Yarra City Council has addressed concerns from musicians, venue operators and industry groups and has agreed to musicians temporarily parking in loading zones near venues while they unload their equipment.

The states peak music body, Music Victoria, recently approached Yarra Council with the initiative and Council will begin issuing parking permits later this year to all live music venues in Yarra.

Venues will be invited to apply for the permits, the number of which will be determined based on the parking facilities available at each location.

Yarra Mayor Cr Jane Garrett said the temporary permits were a simple and practical solution to a problem that has plagued musicians working in the inner city.

Musicians who need to unload equipment regularly run the risk of losing a large proportion of their income to parking fines, Cr Garrett said.

Yarras live music scene is nationally regarded and makes important contributions to our city so we want to ensure we are doing all we can to support those who keep that scene strong.

Music Victoria CEO, Patrick Donovan, stated Music Victoria congratulates the Mayor of the City of Yarra for undertaking these initiatives to make it easier for musicians to legally promote their shows and unload their equipment. Giving venues the responsibility to hand out parking permits to the musicians is exactly the kind of grassroots initiative we will be hoping to promote under our Best Practice Live Music Charter.

Musicians are at the lower end of the socio-economic scale, and it seemed grossly unfair that they could go into a gig and leave in the red for simply trying to promote their shows and unload their equipment. Like other small businesses, bands should have access to commercial loading bays.

"The ability for musicians to legitimately use loadings zones for loading in and out of gigs is very important" said Jon Perring, City of Yarra venue operator and representative of lobby group Fair Go 4 Live Music. "I don’t know how many times musos have lost their gig money and then some from a parking ticket, but its lots. It's a small thing but has real practical value. It's like musicians are finally coming in from the cold.”

From another suggestion via Music Victoria, Council will also begin installing permanent display boards in Smith Street later this month for people to legally paste up posters to promote gigs and events. Identifying other suitable locations in Yarra for more bill poster boards will be one of the tasks of Councils newly formed Live Music Working Group, created to identify issues impacting live music in Yarra and to consider models that address similar issues in other Australian cities.