Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Arts Minister Tony Burke announced plans over the weekend to launch a National Live Music Office, with the Labor Party pledging to spend $560,000 in the next three years on the new office, which will include support for a new national task force that will stimulate and support live music across Australia.

As The Age reports, the news came after Prime Minister Kevin Rudd attended Marieke Hardy’s ‘Dream Dinner’, a result of a crowdfunding campaign that saw the Prime Minister dining with Hardy, Wally ‘Gotye’ DeBacker, Kevin Mitchell (of Bob Evans/Jebediah fame), Andrew Denton, celebrity chef Matt Preston, and others.

The National Live Music Office will be run within APRA (the Australasian Performing Rights Association) and will be managed by Dr Ianto Ware – Labor’s recently named National Live Music Coordinator who was appointed by Sounds Australia and former Arts Minister Simon Crean. Dr Ware’s newest role will see him looking at policy, regulatory, and process reforms that would help support Australia’s live music scene.

As part of the Federal Government’s new $560k office, a number of high-profile Australian musicians have appointed as ‘ambassadors’ of live music to support the office’s aims in each state.

Hoodoo Gurus frontman Dave Faulkner has been appointed as the New South Wales ambassador, along with Bluejuice’s Stavros Yiannoukas. Victoria will be represented by Kevin Mitchell; Hilltop Hoods’ MC Suffa, aka Matt Lambert, is South Australia’s ambassador. Western Australia’s is Kav Temperley of Eskimo Joe, North Territory’s is Leah Flanagan, Queensland’s is Katie Noonan, well known singer for Elixir and George, and Dewayne Everettsmith will represent Tasmania. “A healthy live music scene is crucial to the cultural richness of any city.” – Dave Faulkner, Hoodoo Gurus

Speaking of his new position and the National Live Music Office, Kevin Mitchell told The Age he would have “no job and no friends” if it wasn’t for the live music scene. “My career has been built completely on top of being part of a healthy live music community,” says Mitchell.

“When I first started playing music with Jebediah in Perth in 1995 we never talked about making records, we just dreamed of playing gigs at all our favourite venues that we’d gone to see our favourite bands play in before us,” he adds.

Hoodoo Gurus’ Dave Faulkner said of the new initiative: “A healthy live music scene is crucial to the cultural richness of any city.” Katie Noonan echoed his sentiments saying that the live music scene “is the backbone” of every Australian musician and “helps define our culture and sense of community.”

Hilltop Hood Matt Lambert highlighted the issues that live music venues in his hometown of Adelaide faced, including strict new legislation enforcements and how South Australian venue operators viewed pokies as “a more appealing” source of income; “but the reasons for supporting live music scene shouldn’t just be purely financial,” he says. “As a country, we should be looking to foster our talent and create an environment where artists not only flourish, they spearhead our cultural growth.”

Dr Ianto Ware has already hit the ground running with the National Live Music Office, this morning saying that he’s looking into reforms proposed by Music Victoria that could save venues millions in needless expenditure on upgrades and legislative costs.

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