Saturday 1 September 2007

Time to face the music

Today we welcome Ajax, who joins's stable of contributors.

Gavin King’s piece in Saturday’s ‘the king’ column in the Cairns Post [Sept 1], pertaining to the lack of quality entertainment and culture in Cairns, hit the nail squarely on the head.
The recent demise of some significant establishments, most notably Johno’s Blue Bar, has sparked concern for the live music scene in Cairns, which has been deteriorating over a number of years, and for the welfare of local musicians.

Our supposed showpiece event, Festival Cairns, is little more than mutton dressed up as lamb. Let’s face it, most of the events on offer, save the parade and the fireworks, would be happening irrespective of the FC banner. The bulk of the program comprises independently funded and run events conveniently deposited under the festival umbrella.

Concern for the live music scene in general should not be confined to disenchanted or affected musicians but rather the community at large since everyone in the Far North relies on the tourism industry to some degree.

With limited enriching and unique nightlife entertainment in Cairns, tourists expecting a quality experience are not likely to return a second time, thus affecting the whole tourism industry in our region.

Aspiring, developing and professional musicians alike are likely to continue to leave in droves, further eroding the cultural development of this once lively music-rich centre.

The rapid loss of venues and opportunities for musical expression represents a serious narrowing of the tourism market and narrowing of the cultural development of this region.

The issues impacting on the live music industry in this region are varied and complex. Different people have different views about the impact of the introduction of no-smoking laws; licensing laws and costs; and the impact of poker machines. This complexity of views seems to have prevented adequate action in the past.

The proliferation of residential tower blocks in the city will assuredly exacerbate the situation in months and years to come. Residents and tenants of these units will not want live music “polluting” their ideal homes. Designating a large area of the CBD — say from the Esplanade to Sheridan St — as an entertainment precinct (as has happened in Brisbane with Fortitude Valley) might be worth considering; otherwise live music in the city could die out all together.

In any event, it’s time to act — and to act fast. A regional industry forum might be a good start.

State government funding should perhaps be made available to extend live entertainment performances in the Cairns CBD to 7 evenings a week / 52 weeks a year.

At the moment, entertainment is limited to weekend nights, financed by the Cairns City Council, and then sometimes of dubious quality.

The entertainment on offer should be culturally relevant– e.g. Aboriginal and Islander troupes, and bands whose music reflects in some way the history and geography of the region and Australia in general.

The level of musicianship on display should reflect the generally high standard of musicianship prevalent in Cairns.

Cairns is a major, year-round tourist destination. Hordes of bored tourists can currently be seen wandering around the city like wildebeest, looking for entertainment. Beyond the shops and the nightclubs, there’s precious little for them to do of an evening, especially the more budget-conscious travellers.

At the moment, most of the entertainment on offer is ‘yoof’ orientated and decidedly tacky — ‘pub crawl’ busses, tit & bum nightclubs, and strip joints.

Quality live entertainment seven nights a week in the City Place and Lagoon-side would create excitement, generate goodwill and generally enhance visitor enjoyment and help to promote return visits. It would also provide much-needed employment for local musicians.


Anonymous said...

Isnt it high time that JCU, Tafe and Cairns City Council as well as ALL High Schools got together and created a dedicated music and performance school in Cairns.Our climate is ideal for outside entertainment, and we do have a beautiful convention centre available ,so the students could perform 7 days and nights per week in Cairns.
It would be a marvelous notch in our bedhead, and bring visitors and touring performers from across the globe.
We need to be recognised for things other than the reef and rainforest. With climate change a happening thing, we cant rest on our laurels.

Anonymous said...

The jury is still out on City place as a performance venue... the acid test will be how musos feel about it...what the acoustics are like( so far thy're saying they'll have to provide their own foldbacks so they can hear themselves) then there's the punters who will be sitting on the grassy mounds... how are they gunna feel about exposure to the elements?...originally in the artists impression of the redesigned City Place, there were under cover areas set aside so that passers by could tarry a while,sheltered, and be entertained... these have been sacrificed on presumable economic grounds, because Cairns Works took so *&$#ing long to finish the project with consequent budget blowouts... now we have a third rate option for the potentail audience.
Yes, by all means have regular live entertainment here.... if musos like it, they're more likely to enthuse their audience...and City Place avatar 4 will be heralded throughout the land!

Anonymous said...

My girlfriend and I moved to Cairns 8 years ago and have seen a gradual erosion of the nite life... and have bee so dosappointed th our town is becoming so homogenous and bland. The exciting thing about travelling to mew places, as we are a tourist centre, is the uniqueness of the destinatio... when you go to London, New York, Tokoyo, Amsterdam, even Wellington, you're presented with a city life that reflects something unique out it's environs. Cairns is well on the road to noturnal ruin and a bland cultural landscape that local now stay home rather than head out and bring the cirt to life at night... This can be rectified but it requires passion and leadership from the city's leaders. This is not happening at all.
- Daniel, Holloways

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, this blog is great.. so glad I've found a forum online up here. I've only been here for a few months, and was wondering where everyone was talking about topical things that are of concern.
Also, love your stoies on cairnsblog.. well-written, punchy, and some long ones too, which you simply don't get in the newspaper. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that Cairns City Council has provided no shelter in the city place for the same reason they have not provided shelter on most of the esplanade, i.e. they are worried black people may congregate there. I also believe the Cairns police have had input into this decision. There is no question that the demise of some live music venues was "hurried along" because black people love live music and many would frequent the cbd to visit these places.
The council and the police have found the above measures an easy way to assist in their ethnic cleansing of the cbd.
If you wish to verify the effect, consider this, check the percentage of black people who live in the Cairns area, and the next time you're having a night out on the town [that was night] play count the black man.