Buy this man a beer.
Musicians, live music lovers, people of NSW, and general folks who think small scale culture should be given a chance to survive and thrive: on October 26th this year and every year i need you to do me a small favour. Should you see this man in the street, pass him in a pub, or stand behind him in a line at the supermarket i ask you to do one small thing. Buy him a beer. Seriously, you owe him one.
October 26th in NSW is buy John Wardle a beer day.
I have no idea who has the power to officially declare a public holiday in NSW but as far as i’m concerned i’m just calling it.
I am a cynical prick. Very little impresses me. Yet every now and then something happens that truly inspires me. Occasionally someone pulls off something that i had every reason to dismiss as truly impossible. John Wardle’s immense efforts (and by that i mean years, and years of relentless research, lobbying cajoling, organising and generally just fucking persisting when most sane folks would have thrown in the towel) he put into reforming NSW’s dreaded Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) laws falls into that category.
Put simply, until the stupid laws were finally done away with on 26th of October last year you could do pretty much everything in a NSW pub, cafe or gallery without tonnes of red tape except play live music or perform anything live.
As John himself put it:
PoPEs really said a lot about us – that if you told a story or sang a song you were regulated out of existence but if you watched sport or gambled you were exempt.
On October 26th last year the NSW Government finally changed the laws after much effort from John and no doubt much assistance from his friends and colleagues. You can read about the changes here but in practical terms it means that performing live music in NSW is relatively simple where it was once impossibly hard. Already in NSW a lot more venues have a lot more live music because the rules changed so they were suddenly legally allowed to.
John himself has compiled a list of about 50 new places that have become live venues since the laws the have changed – no doubt there are plenty more. It’s a small crack of light that has turned back the forces of darkness and poker machines and a reminder that the stupid and unjustifiable is always untenable in the long run.
Mostly these kinds of efforts, these kinds of changes go unnoticed. Many people, many, many people benefit from them but few realise what effort it took to make it happen. Even i only have the slightest inkling for how far and how hard they needed to push. Indeed the only person in the NSW parliament’s public gallery that night was John:
Its funny – the night the amendments passed to the Planning Act was just like the night the associated changes to the Liquor Act went through.. I was the only person in the gallery, and was called upon to assist… there was no-one around. I walked out later into the Sydney night ..by myself..
Frankly, there should have been a bloody parade.
John Wardle, Sir, i doff my metaphorical hat to you, and this coming tuesday i will raise my actual glass. On account of the fact i will be in another state on the actual day you can take a raincheck on that beer from me any time you like. The rest of you, you all owe him big time.
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