A LIVE music forum attracted about 150 musicians, promotors, tourism officials, venue owners and supporters keen to see the Mornington Peninsula return as a major live music destination.
One of the organisers of last Wednesday’s (1 March) forum, musician and businessman Steve Myles, described the energy and passion in the room as “palpable”, and showed there was a collective commitment to revive the music scene devastated by the pandemic.
The forum heard that new programs by Mornington Peninsula Shire and a concerted energy from within the live music industry would work to give the music sector a much-needed boost.
Myers said it was important to build on the hard work already done by groups like the Mornington Peninsula Live Music Network, but that the recovery plan had to connect all the “key players”.
“What we heard from many people is that there needs to be a way to bring some cohesion into the industry so people know what’s going on, who needs what, where to go for information and how it can be shared,” he said.
“Many people are trying hard to get things happening, so we just need to find a way to connect all the dots, and bring all players on board – that’s council, industry leaders, governments, tourism operators, audiences and artists.
“What we hope is to bring people together in the next few months to be able to work on a plan to do that.”
Myles said the live music scene needed targeted support, and the forum had “lit a fire under people”.
“The forum was really positive, there was so much goodwill in the room and no negativity – its showed that everyone who likes live music or is involved in the industry somehow is behind this,” he said.
Cr Sarah Race told the forum that the council had several plans to give the sector a boost, including renewing the publication of a gig guide to better profile live music and connect audience with performances.
A program to support venues would culminate in a four-day musical “adventure”, involving the participating venues as part of the April DRIFT arts festival while a two-year youth music development program would give young people the skills to work in the music industry.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said council recognised that music helped drive the economy and united and connected communities.
He said that since adopting its music plan in December 2021, council had invested in supporting the local music industry, including developing the DRIFT festival, with the inaugural festival in 2022 delivering 87 shows across a range of artforms and creative disciplines.
He said the festival also supported more than 200 musicians, crews and technicians, many of who hadn’t worked in two years due to COVID, and injected more than $3 million into the local economy.
“We have given over $900,000 in grants to creative industries, including over $300,000 to directly support the development of local music projects,” Holland said.
“We have committed $100,000 to support musicians to fill our streets with music. So far the MP Street Beats program has supported over 110 musicians to perform free outdoor shows in towns across the peninsula.
“We are also about to launch some exciting new projects.”
Music promotor Paul Carmody said there was a collective vision to develop the peninsula as a destination for music, musicians and venues, businesses and tourism.
“The peninsula is blessed with the required infrastructure, accommodation, and I can truly see this coming to life with the focus of all,” he said.
Peninsula singer/songwriter Marcelle said it was uplifting to be in a room filled with “incredibly talented and passionate music makers” and supporters.
“As artists, I believe we’re constantly balancing the vulnerability required for our craft, with the strength and awareness required for aspects of our careers. Perhaps that’s why wonderful events like last night and those run by the MP Music Network are so valuable for us artists, as it strengthens our sense of community and holding.
“The peninsula is such a beloved Victorian destination. There is so much great music on offer here and plenty of passion and talent to go along with it.”
Myles said stakeholders would meet in a few months, and then regularly, to develop a more structured way forward.