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The Basement: more than just a venue

“You don’t feel supported by the government or anybody else, in fact it feels like you are being pushed out because of noise complaints and the list goes on. I can understand why some venues have said enough is enough.”

Lance Fox is the owner of The Basement, one of Canberra’s iconic live music venues fighting to keep the industry alive. Financial strain from reducing the pub’s 700 person capacity to 100 punters during the pandemic has exposed the adversity faced by many live music venues for over a decade.

This year, two of Canberra’s music venues fell victim to pressure caused by noise restrictions, licensing fees, increasing insurance, high rent and property development. While the Federal Government has responded during the pandemic with a $75 million Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund, the central issues facing the live music industry continue to fall on deaf ears.

Since the release of the ACT Government’s 2019 Entertainment Action Plan, Music ACT has heavily criticised the government for approving residential developments while promises to create an entertainment precinct gather dust.

“I don’t know of any other businesses that would have to fight to justify their existence and they don’t have to fight to justify the existence of their industry,” says Mr Fox.

“The pandemic in a lot of ways is going to help showcase how important this industry is and people realise they very nearly lost it, if they haven’t already.”

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