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Government supports live music in the valley

Geoff Helisma

The NSW Government has awarded grants, totalling $225,000, to four venues in the Clarence electorate.

Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis announced in a media release that the Saraton Theatre and the Village Green Hotel in Grafton, the Yamba Bowls Club and the Hotel Illawong in Evans Head won the grants, “to help revive the live music scene”.

“These great local venues are among 162 NSW businesses to take a slice of the NSW Government’s $24 million COVID-busting live music support package,” Mr Gulaptis said.

Yamba Bowling Club manager, Phil Boughton, said his club will “use funds to bring in out of town entertainment … [because] some of the concerts we’ve wanted to put on were a bit out of our reach”.

“Now we can really start working on our plans.”

Mr Boughton said the club was “interested in the local scene”, too.

“Covid has had a big impact on our local entertainment scene; we haven’t been doing near as much as we have in the past – now we’ll be able to revive that scene again,” he said.

Mr Gulaptis said “funds were allocated by an industry and government panel, with amounts decided based on the size of individual venues and whether the venue operates exclusively for live music or whether live music forms a significant part of the venue operations”.

“In this case, the Yamba Bowls Club won $120,000, the Saraton Theatre $45,000 and the Illawong [Evans Head] and Village Green pubs $30,000 each,” Mr Gulaptis said.

“Recipients can use funding for operational costs, including hiring musicians and support crew.”

A spokesperson for the Saraton Theatre said she recently received “a timely reminder that live music is an important part of our lives”.

“When we first reopened and participated in the Great Southern Nights concerts, legendary jazz musician James Morrison performed at our theatre,” she said.

“He is a world-class performer and played with a passion in Grafton, as if he was playing in New York.

“That inspiration spurs us on to spend the grant on upgrading our sound and stage technology in order to attract and provide a variety of live music events for all ages and all musical tastes.”

Speaking on behalf of the Village Green Hotel, North Coast Hotel Group director Charlie Nalder said the Covid restrictions had resulted in the hotel “scaling back its entertainment”.

“This grant allows us to build a stage area, add show lighting and expand the scope and range of music we put on,” he said.

“Rather than just duos and solos, we’ll have bands and also create major monthly events around live music.”