Live and Local Strategic Initiative
The outcomes of Live and Local Strategic Initiative were assessed in consultation with key stakeholders and participants through an evaluation process conducted by NSF Consulting and the Live Music Office on behalf of Create NSW.
To assess whether the model worked for the participating stakeholders and to examine impacts and lessons learned.
In-depth interviews with 44 stakeholders representing all 18 councils, including 16 council Project Managers, 13 Curators, 8 musicians, 2 Regional Arts Development Officers and 5 internal stakeholders. Data was analysed from internal documents and council acquittal reports.
A Program Logic Model and Criteria of Merit were developed to determine broad attributes on which the program would be assessed. Qualitative and quantitative evidence was gathered and analysed using an evaluation rubric, then importance weighting was considered to arrive at evaluative conclusions.
The Objectives of the Live and Local Strategic Initiative are to:
- Support local businesses in programming live music
- Build capacity for local Councils to provide sustainable, locally specific music based events
- Provide direct access to best practice of contemporary music presentation, promotion, strategy and networks
- Enhance connections for local musicians to the local and domestic music industry
- Deliver best practice policy and regulatory guidance to local councils
- Coordinate a strong, collegiate regional music network within Western Sydney & Regional NSW
- Support all-ages audience development and access to live music.
As a model, Live and Local was culturally, socially and economically appropriate. The model was able to be adapted to the needs of local LGAs, from those with established arts and cultural communities to those that were less established or resourced.
The program was delivered efficiently. Council Project Managers accessed and used templates and event planning documents from the Music Office website. The Live Music Office made introductions between councils and industry organisations to assist artists with professional development, however, some industry representatives did not have the time or budget to participate fully in this process.
There were some minor issues with efficiency for some on a local LGA level but they did not impact on the overall success of the model.
Live and Local enabled local councils to build capacity to stage or support live music events. All participating council Project Managers acquired new professional skills. Many had not worked with musicians before, nor were they previously aware of the extent of talent in their communities.
Ten councils went on to develop new resources or major initiatives. Almost all remaining eight have started the process and taken first steps.
All 18 participating councils have established a new database of local musicians. Even those with established live music scenes grew their contact lists and created a new resource. All councils have continued to use and update their databases since Live and Local to access artists.
Live and Local was the catalyst for wide-ranging policy and strategy engagement with participating councils, building connectivity and participation with Create NSW, the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into Live Music and Local Government initiatives. The Live Music Office staff supported best practice policy and regulatory advice to local councils by informing them of the development or amendment of Cultural Plans or facilitating discussions about the night time economy.
Six councils provided written submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the music and arts economy; four have appeared directly before the Inquiry Committee to provide further evidence.
Six participating councils worked with new internal teams within Council or in ways they had not before. Many new collaborations were between cultural planning and economic development departments within council.
Six participating councils formed new business networks. They included councils in both Western Sydney and Regional NSW.
Not all councils provided figures on local sales or business traffic from the events but a number of businesses in all participating LGAs recognised the potential that live music could have on their business bottom line. Some retained musicians after their Live and Local gig ended and provided paid performance opportunities in their businesses.
A number of businesses demonstrated a change in attitude towards supporting live music and have already started incorporating live music into this business models for the first time and are employing musicians independently. Others are interested to do so but require further support.
Many businesses had not worked with council before. Live and Local changed their perception of their local council from negative to positive.
A number of musicians in Western Sydney and Regional NSW have gained further employment from their involvement in Live and Local. There have also been new opportunities for curators.
Musicians gained a range of new professional skills, although some emerging artists needed considerably more support than was available. They demonstrated knowledge gaps in areas including invoicing, acquiring ABNs and understanding contracts.
Curators developed a range of new professional skills and many have had further employment opportunities since Live and Local.
The program presented performances that were appropriate to each venue, many of which had modest PA requirements to suit small to medium venues. Live and Local enabled for the staging of small family friendly festivals in local areas and contributed to community cohesion and enhanced the way that local communities value live music in many contexts.
Strengths of Live and Local
- Live and Local built capacity for local councils to provide sustainable, locally specific music based events, often for the first time;
- Live and Local provided paid work for 1,359 musicians, some of whom have since gained ongoing work through their local council;
- The initiative acted as a catalyst for wide-ranging policy and strategy discussions with council, building connectivity with State and Local Government;
- Live and Local enabled councils to develop new databases of local musicians, which they continued to use beyond the program period;
- Councils were provided with a positive platform upon which to build or rebuild positive relationships with local businesses and communities;
- Communities were introduced to new original music free of charge;
- The model was flexible enough to be able to be scaled up or down in response to local situations.