City can thrive on live music

April 11, 2018

It is clear there is room to improve the options for live music in Shepparton.

The News from time to time hears the question raised as to why the city doesn’t have more bands and artists of national prominence touring, while smaller areas in Victoria and Australia do.

There’s a number of elements to the discussion and we don’t pretend it’s an easy or quick fix.

Music scenes take time to build, and for a passionate following to develop. The live music and festival space appears to be competitive and can be laden with risk.

But there seems to be an appetite for a more developed scene in the city.

We welcome increased efforts to open up this possibility. Last year, Greater Shepparton City Council expressed an interest in diversifying its $50million a year events calendar, more than half of which is taken up by sports offerings.

Long having been a bankable prospect with a clear following, the prevalence of sport here isn’t surprising.

And moves seem to have been made during the last year or so to branch out, with more regular food truck festivals, and with an interest in making the Shepparton Shake Out a regular event.

While this certainly has niche appeal, one wonders whether this could present an obstacle in it courting broader interest.

The News last week spoke to a musician who recently relocated to the city.

James Kershaw highlighted an observed appetite for more live music in the city, pointing to the need for residents to travel for many gigs at present.

It would be a huge win for a festival with city-spanning potential, such as the kind Echuca or Wangaratta can stake a claim to, if developed locally. Or the sort of thriving live music scene of other areas.

No doubt these events have been held here before. And the city does boast a number of grassroots music events. But more backing and support for such pursuits would be welcome.

A number of the barriers to hosting top-notch live music festivals and events in the region that have stood in the past no longer seem to be in play, and with major projects such as the new SAM set to be a cultural precinct for the city on the horizon, surely opportunities can only improve.

Supporting a live music scene for the city can only serve to improve livability also. It would ensure less locals would need to travel to the big smoke to see a band they love on the weekend.

Perhaps more valuable though, it would offer up one fewer reason for young locals to relocate to cities, with the understanding cultural options can be found on the region’s doorstep.

It may even serve to create new reasons for young professionals interested in a tree change to relocate to the city.

Once this starts to happen, one imagines a healthy thriving live music scene can only gather steam.

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