Following the news that Police with sniffer dogs gatecrashed a Tex Perkins and the Dark Horses gig last week as part of a the new venue crackdown from the NSW Government, Sydney’s live music scene continues to fluctuate from drastic new changes from its local politicians against the backdrop of Lord Mayor Clover Moore and the City of Sydney Council attempting to invigorate the city’s flagging cultural scene.

The latest from NSW Government, which has already introduced a raft of new measures to crackdown on licensed venues in Sydney in an attempt to curb alcohol related-violence, is news from the Sydney Morning Herald reporting that NSW Premier, Barry O’Farrell is setting up ‘drunk tanks’ across Sydney as part of his strong-arm tactics to wield the Police force as a blunt instrument agains the issue of street and alcohol-related violence.

Police have criticised the Premier’s new scheme, labelling the drunk tanks as “Barry’s Fight Clubs”, fearing that locking up drunk, agitated revellers in new ‘sobering-up’ facilities will simply incite isolated incidents of violence and even risk of deaths of those in custody. The police are also sceptical of Premier O’Farrel’s initiatives to curb street violence, calling it a waste of money, misdirected, and over-stretching police resources.

Scott Weber, president of the Police Association of NSW, called the proposal “a Band-Aid solution,” saying that “putting a large group of intoxicated people in one location is absolutely ridiculous and a huge drain on valuable police resources.”

The idea of Mr O’Farrell’s drunk tanks was originally part of his 2010 Making Our Streets Safe Again policy, but was dragged out once again as part of new security measures and liquor licensing regulations promised by the Premier following the death of 18-year-old Thomas Kelly in a senseless attack in Sydney’s King Cross in July, and since then has become a political platform for pokie-lined pub venues and politicians alike.“putting a large group of intoxicated people in one location is absolutely ridiculous and a huge drain on valuable police resources.”

Police were working with the government to roll out the new initiative, allocating police discretionary powers to assess whether people should be placed in a sobering-up centre, but a police source told press that the government had not allocated funding for the scheme, which was mocked as a “vomitorium of punch-ons.”

NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione and Assitant Commissioner Mark Murdoch, have campaigned against alcohol-fuelled violence and have begun negotiations with the government but declined to deliver official comment about the new sobering-up centres.

Cameron Murphy, president for the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, called the initiative “extremely dangerous” as a risk to personal health and safety; adding that the drunk centers would be “misused by police. It’s an absurd and expensive idea that doesn’t reduce the core problems of alcoholism, violence or public safety.”

In contrast to the government’s hardline tactics, the City of Sydney local looking to turn around the culture of violence in the CBD by focussing on its new Open Sydney cultural policy, which is proposing nearly 300 new initiatives that aim to double the late-night economy’s annual turnover to $30 billion and increase after-hours jobs by 25 per cent by 2030.

The first major initiative being the launch of the recently announced inaugural Kings Cross Festival, which will light up the popular – but lately troubled – night-time district over five days and five nights with a series of gigs, bands, cabaret, art walks, family events, and screenings across multiple venues.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore had backed organisers of the new Kings Cross Festival, with Moore saying that entertainment was the best and most powerful way to manage a crowd and help change the character of the distric.

The Lord Mayor’s sentiments were echoed by the festival’s artistic director Ignatius Jones, who stated that “the best way to control a crowd is to entertain it. That’s the principle that drives the Kings Cross festival.”“Our CBD is dead, quite frankly… It’s like a ghost town on the weekends”

At the same time, the festival that Jones formerly produced, Sydney’s popular VIVID festival, has revealed plans to use the iconic Harbour Bridge as a giant backdrop for next year’s event in a light show across two central business districts.

The newly elected mayor of North Sydney, Jilly Gibson, is following Mayor Moore’s lead in pushing for the new cultural initiative, that will see the Harbour Bridge play a key visual and aesthetic link in VIVID festival’s annual “celebration of light, music and ideas.” Linking the Opera House, Walsh Bay and The Rocks in the CBD’s north, to the landmark areas across the harbour, including Kirribilli, Milsons Point wharf, North Sydney Olympic Pool and Luna Park.

Speaking of next year’s VIVID festival, Ms Gisbon remarked, “I would like, the following year, for us to link the two cities together by lighting up the bridge and the pylons.”

Destination NSW has met with Ms Gibson to discuss the council’s ideas for VIVID about funding allocations, but Ms Gibson hopes that next year’s festival will include the Harbour Bridge in a “light display travelling across the harbour by ferry and lighting up North Sydney’s iconic foreshore buildings before cutting a swathe up Alfred Street to the CBD.”

VIVID festival has become famous in the last half-decade for revitalising Sydney’s contemporary festival scene, hosting a series of international and local talent that has seen Sydney Opera House play host to the likes of Bat For Lashes, Janelle Monae, and the legendary Lou Reed performing his ‘concert for dogs’ on the Opera House steps.

Much like City of Sydney’s new cultural policy, which hopes to boost the city’s cultural scene as well as its local economy and job growth, North Sydney’s mayor Gibson sees VIVID and the new Harbour Bridge light show, as an opportunity to revitalise her location’s ailing scene. “Our CBD is dead, quite frankly,” said Ms Gibson “It’s like a ghost town on the weekends,” with reports that retailers are only open from Monday to Friday.

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