Laneway Festival 2014’s Sydney leg has become the target of a conservation group lobbying local council to stop the boutique music festival from expanding its capacity.
Laneway is set for Sunday 2nd February – with a strong female-centric lineup featuring Lorde, Haim, The Jezabels, Savages, Warpaint, and more – and has already earned the tick of approval from NSW Police and local council, but efforts to increase the patron capacity from 8,000 to 12,500 have become the bone of contention of lobbyist group Friends Of Callan Park.
The Laneway site in and around the Sydney College Of The Arts – whose Dean Colin Rhodes supports the event – has Friends Of Callan Park, which includes several Leichhardt Council members, are up in arms about its proposed sized increase, as Sydney Morning Herald reports.
The lobby group’s vocal leader is Greens Party member Hall Greenland, according to Leichhardt Mayor Darcy Byrne, who has been a strong supporter of live music in his push for the rescued Annandale Hotel and plans for a Sydney live music precinct.
Mayor Byrne had accused Greenland of spearheading the Friends Of Callan Park push to vote against the Laneway expansion; “I am astounded that the leader of the Greens Party in NSW is trying to have 4000 music lovers turned away from Sydney’s best emerging festival,” the Lecihhardt Mayor told The Music; “the self-appointed fun police are trying to shut it down.” “I am astounded that the leader of the Greens Party in NSW is trying to have 4000 music lovers turned away from Sydney’s best emerging festival.”
Greenland tells SMH that it does not instruct its members how to vote, but that the Laneway festival size was a point of contention.
“The key is the size of the event, it’s growing and it’s obviously very popular so good luck to the musicians and the promoters but there has to be a question as to whether Callan Park is a suitable venue for 12,500 people. There are other music venues around that are not considered heritage landscapes that are probably more suitable,” says Greenland.
“There are other music venues around that are not considered heritage landscapes that are probably more suitable,” Greenland added. “Parts [of the park] like the Sunken Gardens are very fragile…that in particular is something that 12,500 fans would put at risk.”
Laneway Festival co-promoter Danny Rogers however, doesn’t see the risk, with the event already gaining approval to increase its capacity in seven of the eight cities Laneway is visiting across 2014 in three countries.
Rogers has taken the same approval steps in Sydney as those that were successful for the legs in Detroit, Singapore, Auckland, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, and Melbourne – whose Footscray Community Arts Centre has the largest attendance, growing from 12,000 this year to 15,000 for its 2014 edition.
“I don’t really know what all the commotion is about [in Sydney],” says Rogers. “We’ve had an independent assessment commissioned [for the increase], we’ve got the approval of the NSW Police… to suddenly have a small minority of people say you need a smaller capacity makes zero sense. I have no interest in being oversubscribed – that would work against us.” “…To suddenly have a small minority of people say you need a smaller capacity makes zero sense.”
The changes for the 12,500 capacity increase for Sydney include pushing the main stage towards Balmain Road and increasing the number of food stalls and amenities, with the final decision over the application scheduled for a council meeting held on Tuesday 3rd December (view the application here).
Rogers says that even if the application is rejected by Leichhardt Council, Laneway would likely go ahead in Callan Park but could affect future the placement of future editions of the boutique festival.
“That would be tremendously disappointing and a shame,” says Rogers, “because people have fallen in love with the space [but] we’d have to consider our options for future events.”
Luckily, Laneway does have the council’s Mayor on their side, with Leichhardt’s Darcy Byrne telling FasterLouder that the Friends Of Callan Park opposition is exactly the kind of “fun police” tactics that has hurt Sydney’s live music venues in the past.
“Earlier this year the iconic Annandale Hotel went broke, as a result of past legal action by Leichhardt Council and anti-music activists,” says Bryne. “It would be unforgivable if Laneway were to be lost to the Inner West because of opposition from these same Not-In-My-Back-Yard protesters. I am calling on young people and the music lovers of Sydney to make their voice heard and demand that the Laneway Festival be approved.”
(Image: Scott Gallagher. Source: Laneway Festival 2013 Sydney)
Laneway 2014 Lineup
Autre Ne Veut
Kirin J Callinan
Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike)
Unknown Mortal Orchestra**
**Exclusive to Laneway 2014, no sideshows.
Laneway 2014 Dates & Venues
Brisbane: Friday 31st January – RNA, Fortitude Valley
Melbourne: Saturday 1st February – Footscray Community Arts Centre/River’s Edge
Sydney: Sunday 2nd February – Sydney College Of The Arts, Rozelle
Adelaide: Friday 7th February – Harts Mill, Port Adelaide
Perth: Saturday 8th February – Esplanade Park and West End, Fremantle
Tickets and info at http://lanewayfestival.com/