Mayor, councillors clash over live music plan

Jules Radich. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich. Photo: Peter McIntosh
Dunedin's mayor was out of tune with fellow councillors over a plan to dedicate staff resources to revitalising the city’s live music scene.

Councillors voted 7-4 to allocate staff resourcing to deliver the Otepoti Live Music Action Plan, during deliberations over annual plan funding requests at a Dunedin City Council meeting last week.

Cr Steve Walker, who made the proposal, said it was a commitment to properly allocate existing resources — ideally one person as a single point of contact who was trusted by the music community — to deliver on the promise outlined in the plan.

It was not asking for a new financial commitment.

One of the 36 action points identified in the plan was the provision of a music adviser position, whose role would be to co-ordinate and deliver the plan across council.

Cr Walker said the council had heard various concerns about this point and it made sense to have a dedicated staff member to drive what was listed in the plan.

"Unless we commit to this, I really do fear that all the incredible work we have done in collaboration with the music community up until this point will go to waste.

"That would be a real shame for us and sadly a real kick in the guts for the music community."

Dunedin Mayor Jules Radich said he could not support the motion and labelled it "a motion of impatience".

"It is very common for the community and councillors and members of staff themselves to be impatient with the processes of council, but unfortunately that is the nature of the beast."

The staff resources required to do this were limited and things needed to happen in sequence in order to be lined up properly.

Steve Walker
Steve Walker
Cr Christine Garey said this process was about listening to the community and she had heard them saying they needed a point of contact, if not a holding place, until the council allocated an extra staff resource.

It was councillors’ responsibility for the delays — not staff’s — and a lot of factors had stood in the way.

"I don’t accept that the community is impatient.

"I think they have been very patient and they want to work with us and we need to find a way to do that."

Cr Lee Vandervis said as someone who joined a rock band about 40 years ago, he had a lot of experience in the live music business.

It was his memory that Dunedin’s music scene in the ’60s and ’70s had thrived "without any DCC involvement at all".

He suggested staff locate a number of unused basements around the city, and allocate one person to organise locking and unlocking them for bands.

"Get some basements organised, watch them flourish and then make sure that whatever plan we have actually enables their product to become viable and sold to the world."

While this "hands-off approach" would allow for a whole new generation of new bands and music at little cost, the council had a role in promoting local product.

"But the grassroots aspect of it needs to be able to develop by itself, and it needs to have the freedom to be able to do it as grungily as it wants to."

Cr Jim O’Malley did not think it was impatience at this point, as the council had previously given a lot of deadlines for the delivery of the plan which it had kept on passing.

"These guys have been on the other side waiting for us to get to the end of this delivery process.

"We’ve just got to get to it."

Mr Radich, deputy mayor Cherry Lucas and Crs Bill Acklin and Vandervis voted against the motion.

Cr Marie Laufiso abstained from the vote.