Live music fans pitch to protect venues

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Undeterred by the rain, live music fans crowded into the Octagon yesterday to tell Dunedin City Council and developers out loud that venues urgently need protection before the sound of Dunedin disappear.

Save Dunedin Live Music spokesman David Bennett said he was pleased with the large number of supporters who turned out despite heavy rain and plummeting temperatures.

The aim was to pressure the council to get the developer of a lower Rattray St property next to the Crown Hotel, Anchorage Properties Ltd, to come to the table to discuss solutions, Mr Bennett said.

“We want them to help us put pressure on the developer to do more to protect this place [the Crown] because it’s so important to the city,” he said.

A mixed-use residential and commercial building has been consented for the lower Rattray St property, sparking fears that noise complaints from new residents could force the venue to scale back operations, despite hosting live music for decades.

Mr Bennett said his message to the developers was that he wanted them to consider the cultural value of the Crown Hotel and its importance to many people in the city.

“Please come and talk to us and the council and we’ll see what we can do to mitigate any impact,” he said.

They also wanted the council to “plan for the noise”.

At the height of the protest, around 200 people attended, watching five musical performances by Dunedin artists and listening to speakers.

Chairman Taylor MacGregor, of Save Our Venues NZ, told the crowd that the Crown Hotel was in a precarious situation, but he was not alone.

Venues that supported grassroots music communities were crucial to launching the careers of artists and promoters, but “all it takes is one unreasonable growl from a neighbor to put the kibosh on anything you want to do,” Ms. MacGregor.

Noise restrictions causing venues to close were a problem across the country, but change could be on the horizon if Dunedin found a solution to the problems facing the Crown Hotel, he said.

“This is an opportunity to set a national precedent that celebrates our sites as essential parts of our cities and communities.”

Bliss Point drummer Tane Cotton said the Hocken Library exhibition ‘Kaleidoscope World: 40 years of Flying Nun in Dunedin’ highlighted the town’s rich musical heritage over the years, with around 50 locations around Dunedin.

Now there were only a handful left and the groups were struggling, Mr Cotton said.

Crown Hotel owner Jones Chin said he was pleased with the support he had received, which showed that Dunedin’s live music scene was not yet dead.

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