City News

Top secret stages light up the night

The Holidays perform at Oxford Art Factory

‘Secret’ performances by big names in international music would be enabled under a City of Sydney plan to encourage touring artists to collaborate with local musicians.

The Live Music and Performance Action Plan calls on the council to work with the immigration department, promoters and venues to create greater flexibility.

The report says it is “common practice” for major touring artists to perform ‘secret shows’ at more intimate venues, often teaming up with local acts in the process. Stevie Wonder, Prince and Lady Gaga are among those known to play late-night gigs after their arena shows.

But there are roadblocks imposed by visa regulations and exclusivity contracts, which the City of Sydney would like to see relaxed.

The Temporary Work (Entertainment) visa requires an approved ‘entertainment sponsor’ (typically the promoter) to detail the artist’s work while they are in Australia, including all locations the work will occur.

Contracts between venues and promoters typically prevent artists from performing secondary gigs before or after primary concert. According to the action plan: “These exclusivity clauses also apply to touring band members and continue even after the primary concert(s) have sold out.”

The plan reveals that “initial conversations with local promoters, festivals and venues indicate a willingness to revisit current practice”. It suggests that the immigration department could provide concessions for artists to perform in smaller venues once the primary concert has sold out.

Chair of the Live Music Taskforce John Wardle said it is exciting when local artists are able to work with touring talent.

“The effect is just enormous, not only for Sydney’s nightlife, but for the local musicians and venues as well,” he said.

“Just look at 505 and the Basement who have had Harry Connick Jr’s band and Prince’s band play after shows.”

A spokesperson for the immigration minister said the City of Sydney has not yet approached the government on this issue.

“We will consider any proposal on its merits,” the spokesperson told City News.

Michael Koziol contributed reporting

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