Crowds winding up for a big day at Splendour in the Grass 2010 listening to Yacht Club DJs.
Crowds winding up for a big day at Splendour in the Grass 2010 listening to Yacht Club DJs. Jay Cronan

Byron council 'anti-music'

BLUESFEST director Peter Noble has hit back at claims that he doesn't understand the issues surrounding Byron Shire's policy on major events.

Mayor Jan Barham said recently that Mr Noble's belief that the events policy was “anti-music” was “confused”.

Music events had been singled out because they were occasions which had an impact on the wider community and could cause conflict, so needed planning regulations.

But Mr Noble said there was no confusion around the fact that most people in the community wanted to see music presented in a safe, friendly setting outside of pubs and clubs in the town.

He also said that despite councillors' claims to the contrary, there had been no consultation with the arts and culture community in Byron before the policy was drafted.

“The proposed meeting/workshop never occurred,” he said.

“There did not seem to be any intention whatsoever to include the industry the policy was intended to regulate in any part of the creation of the policy.”

Access to the Mayor became “a hell of a lot more difficult”, as the policy was formulated, he said.

The issue of constraining music events in the shire was given significance this week by the fact that the Splendour in the Grass festival had won the Best Contemporary Music Festival section of the Helpmann Awards, he said.

Bluesfest was a nominee in the awards and Mr Noble said it was ironic that representatives of the two biggest music festivals in Australia “can't get five minutes with the Mayor”.

Mr Noble's fears that council's moves to limit musical events were given support this week by Rhoda Roberts, who founded the Dreaming Festival 15 years ago.

Ms Roberts said she had hopes of bringing a festival of Aboriginal culture to Byron Bay.

However, she said, if there were limits on a festival's numbers and growth it would not be viable.

“My festival wouldn't be called a music festival, but that's part of our culture and would be part of the festival.

"Festival organisers are providing a service to government, through employment, wellbeing and economic benefits like tourism.

“Most of all they build a dialogue between all sectors of our community, which we lack.”