Skip navigation


A vibrant arts sector comes from below not from above. More will be achieved in creating a vibrant arts sector if support is consistently directed toward giving people the freedom to express their creativity and encouraging a culture of people supporting the arts.

In our society art is prolific and intrinsically intertwined with culture. Whether it is simply appreciating an historical artefact, admiring a great painting, enjoying a live performance, or partaking in radical self-expression, art affects us all in our lives.

Live music and cultural events play a vital role in creating a vibrant, attractive city, with a strong night-time economy. The live music scene in Canberra will be best served by reducing the cost of liquor licences and removing burdensome regulations that stifle creativity. Venues should be allowed much greater freedom in how and when they schedule performances and artists need to be allowed the freedom to express themselves in whatever way they see fit, so long as they do not risk the safety of others. Censorship of any form is anathema to free artistic expression.

The ACT Liberal Democrats support:

  1. The identification of safe art zones within the ACT, where members of the community are free to erect art works or hold events free from the risk of prosecution.
  2. Reduction in the cost of liquor licences and any regulations limiting the ability of venues to hold events at the time or in the manner they deem appropriate.
  3. The establishment of Agent of Change legislation to protect established live music venues from noise complaints. More specifically, new developments, particularly those within reasonable distance of a live music venue, will be responsible for paying the costs of sound-proofing themselves.
  4. Introducing a new planning process for low risk arts and cultural venues with an associated Building Code variation in necessary.
  5. Aligning planning provisions for residential and mixed-use developments to achieve the policy objectives of activated cultural use within identified evening and night economy areas.
  6. Eliminating parking fines in Civic on Saturday mornings to encourage patrons to take safe travel options home after a big Friday night without the fear of being fined if their car remains parked in Civic after 9am.
  7. Encouraging pill testing facilities within the ACT generally and not just at major events.
  8. Limiting police activity at events to the prevention of violence and ensuring the safety of patrons.
  9. Complete removal of any direct or indirect censorship provided that appropriate warnings are given beforehand. In terms of public art installations, there would be guidelines recommending that they are non-religious, non-political, non-violent, and non-sexually obscene except during particular festival periods as relevant.
  10. Amending the objects of the ACT Liquor Act to recognise the value and importance of live music so that they are considered by the licencing authority when considering matters such as applications, variations on trading hours, licence transfers, amenity or complaints processes.

The Liberal Democrats recognise that art is not just about money. Sure, money is useful to undertake certain projects, but the passion and the freedom to create and experience art is far more important. While big money music acts or festivals like Keith Urban or Groovin’ the Moo are libertarian, so too are events like Burning Man in America which started with a couple of friends building an improvised wooden figure and burning it down on a San Franciscan beach on the summer solstice and grew to the construction of an improvised city of well over 50,000 people in the Black Rock desert with hundreds of art installations and a complete money-free, barter-only economy. The ACT Liberal Democrats support the personal freedoms of artists and patrons to attend events without fear of police harassment or arbitrary, heavy-handed fines for victimless crimes.

As proven by past events like Metal for the Brain, Canberra has the potential to have a place of significance in the diaries of live music fans from all over Australia. But these events often do not start as large festivals with international acts. Like Metal for the Brain, or the Adelaide Fringe Festival, or MOFO, they start as small events by local artists that gain a reputation and grow year after year to become something significant. And they generally get ruined or lose their significance to the original artists once they become “commercialised” or noticed by the government and “bureaucratised”. They lose the “spark” or point of difference that made them special. Our policies recognise this, and consequently we focus on supporting the underlying culture and environment that supports the artistic inquiry and creativity which leads to the creation of great events or great spaces and we do not support the continued existence of events or installations once they have passed their use-by date.

We fundamentally believe in maintaining artistic integrity and authenticity, and that artificially trying to bolster events or festivals actually eventually ruins them. The Minister’s role in any events should be limited to ensuring that public spaces are not damaged, and that ratepayers are able to interact peacefully and appropriately.

The Liberal Democrats do not take the night-time or general artistic economies for granted. We opposed the lockout laws introduced in Sydney and the pseudo-lockout laws proposed by previous ACT governments. Compared to any other party, our philosophies are arguably the most truly supportive of the Arts over the medium- to long-term.


The official page of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Australian Capital Territory. Authorised by Guy Jakeman, Florey, ACT, 2615