'Civic intervention’ called for after venue closure

A prominent music industry figure has called on the Dunedin City Council to step up to ensure the city’s live music scene continues, following the closure of Starters Bar yesterday.

The Otago University Students’ Association-owned venue was one of the last scarfie watering holes and bastions of live music in Dunedin.

The Chills band manager Scott Muir said the closure was ‘‘a very concerning outcome’’ for the Dunedin music community.

‘‘Given the city has been lauded for its innovative arts and culture strategy (Ara Toi), and spent in excess of $300,000 scoping live performance options for the city in the Charcoalblue study, it would seem an appropriate time for some civic intervention to ensure our legacy is able to continue.’’

Save Dunedin Live Music spokesman David Bennett said more needed to be done to protect the venues the city had.

‘‘We definitely need to do more as a city.

‘‘We look forward to working with the council in exploring options to make sure that these heritage buildings and special places of music in the city are maintained and supported in the future.’’

The loss of the venue was a heavy blow to the longevity and vibrancy of the Dunedin music scene, he said.

Starters Bar in North Dunedin is now allowed to stay open until 3am on Friday to Sunday mornings....
Starters Bar, in Dunedin. PHOTO: LINDA ROBERTSON

Council creative industries manager Kirsten Glengarry said council staff were consulting representatives from Save Dunedin Live Music as part of the development of a Live Music Action Plan, which aims to strengthen the Dunedin music landscape.

The work involved regular contact with representatives from the collective, and staff were also planning hui with the wider music community.

The outcome would be considered by the council in December, she said.

‘‘We have been impressed by the collective’s work to connect the local live music sector in Dunedin, and we look forward to presenting the results of this collaborative effort to the council in December.’’

Police alcohol harm prevention team leader Sergeant Ian Paulin, of Dunedin, said the closure was ‘‘a sad day’’ because there were no more student bars in the North Dunedin area.

‘‘They are a safe bastion for students to drink at.

‘‘Police have always been supportive of student licensed premises.

‘‘It’s better for students to drink at a licenced premises that has some controls in place, like good food, good entertainment and safe ways home, rather than drinking in the streets.

‘‘I hope that Starters find a new venue in the student precinct. That would be ideal for us.’’

An OUSA spokeswoman said that since the closure, the association had been contacted regarding possible new sites.

‘‘However, we have a specific set of needs, including being a venue in North Dunedin and large enough to house live music events.

‘‘We will continue to look and hope to find a new venue in the near future.’’





Venues by all means, but subsidising the alcohol trade is not the business of the City.

Like i've said before, $1 a week donated by every student would raise well over a million dollars a year. The financial ability, the brains and the workforce is a 'bride in waiting'. Just go for it! By all means, get the council regulatory services on board and negotiate with the buildings owner for a 25 year lease. This could be something really special and unique, don't give up. Why just "walk away"?