An interesting rant in this week’s Culturazi email:
- Corroboree Park Kerflunkt as Live Venue
Time for more ‘typical sour grapes‘ from the ‘Johnny comes lately’ Culturazi, this time on the issue of noise. Some of you may be aware the ACT Assembly is currently inquiring into live community events. The inquiry will consider, but not be limited to:
(a) a review of order of occupancy legislation;
(b) options to encourage or require large commercial developments in group or town centres to provide community bollards for the promotion of events via bill posters; and
(c) an examination of how building codes for residential and business development in commercial zones could be amended to ensure sound insulation and physical security are appropriate to co?location with live cultural events.’
Coincidentally, the other day I received an email from the Northside Community Service (NCS) advising that they have been given a notice from the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) regarding Corroboree Park Hall which the NCS manages, stating that they will be liable to fines up to $1000 for any breaches of the noise regs. After 10pm, the level of noise that could trigger a fine is set at 35 decibels, down from 45 decibels before 10pm, both of which levels are so ridiculously low (35 decibels is the level of a normal conversation) that it would be almost impossible to have an event and not be in breach. The NCS advise that hirers would be liable for any fines imposed.
Conversations (at about 35 decibels) with the EPA revealed that their policy is to issue a warning for a first offence, followed by an indeterminate number of $200 fines and ultimately leading to court action (at their discretion) with fines of $1000 possibly being the result. Corroboree Park, having been the subject of at least one noise complaint, is now at the stage of practically automatic fines. The issue here, besides the unduly restrictive noise guidelines, is that individual hirers of Corroboree Park who breach the noise guidelines once are being treated as repeat offenders. As a communtiy organisation attempting to put on cultural events with the usual paucity of financial resources typical of community orgs, we have to reconsider whether Corroboree Park is viable as a venue.
Fair enough, you might say, and perhaps a wooden hall across a quiet Ainslie St from domestic residences isn’t an appropriate place to hold music events, but as a person who has scoured the entire inner north of Canberra for appropriate venues, I can tell you that we are fast running out of functional music venues. Do I have an answer? No, just a penchant for a big whinge. But I’ll be watching the inquiry and such legislative and regulatory changes that may emerge from it with great interest.
Surely it wouldn’t be too hard for someone to kick some sense into the EPA and treat users of the venue separately?
The really weird thing is that seriously large events (IIRC over 5,000 people) are exempt from all these pesky noise laws.