Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams has thrown his support behind a push to improve the local “grassroots arts and culture scene” and has suggested Mandurah would benefit from a purpose-built venue for live music.
Mr Williams said he has aspirations for the city centre to boast a live music scene that attracts locals and tourists alike in what would be a "massive economic driver" and forge a reputation as a culture, music and arts hub.
"Mandurah currently doesn’t have a purpose built music venue and I think it is a massive opportunity for us," he said.
"I would like to see a music venue that was built for the purpose of hosting good live music – whether that be government or public or private.
"I also welcome the opportunity to work with community members who are interested in attracting a music festival here."
There’s an appetite – if the community get on board, we can turn Mandurah into a huge music destination.Mayor Rhys Williams
A number of factors have left the Peel region’s live music industry gasping for breath, including the closing down of Rollercoaster club and noise complaints from increased residential development.
Home-grown band Good Doogs, who have championed being from the Peel region since their beginning, have not performed in Mandurah since their music really started to take hold on Triple J recently.
Drummer Michael Grainger said he and fellow band mates Asher Iriks (guitar, vocals) and Dylan Brown (bass) were keen to rock out to a local crowd but it was almost impossible to find a suitable venue.
“When we first started, we got to play one show at Rollercoaster before it shut down and we played three support slots at the Brighton Hotel before they stopped letting us do live music shows there,” Grainger said.
“There was definitely a demand for it, there was a lot of support … we built our fan base from that.”
But since then, the indie/punk rockers have bypassed their home town on national tours because there just is not anywhere for them to play.
Not only are music-lovers at a loss, but many up-and-coming local artists are also making the trip to Fremantle or Perth to play their music in a more inclusive arts scene.
We're missing out - you’ve got a generation of creative young kids in the Peel region that don’t have an outlet to play their musicGood Doogs drummer Michael Grainger
It is something Grainger said he’s seen too much of.
“We're missing out - you’ve got a generation of creative young kids in the Peel region that don’t have an outlet to play their music,” he said.
“There’s no venue where they can be getting exposure or playing as support acts for national touring artists – there’s no platform for our young kids to take that next step.”
Grainger said he has worked hard to shake up the music landscape in Mandurah, calling in investors and speaking with his industry contacts - but he needs more support.
“I’ve put a big effort into it because I know for a fact if we had a venue here, it would be so popular,” he said.
“We could do outdoor events more often too – we’ve seen with Crabfest that we can have outdoor concerts that go really well.
“These little festivals will be sick and it would be a great stepping stone to getting something going for Mandurah. Once we create this music loving culture in town, that could promote investors to come in and we could get a purpose-built venue.”
The mayor said he has heard the call for action and has made a few moves himself to try and get something off the ground, including turning the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre into a temporary venue for touring bands to use.
“I don’t want to wait to start getting great live music in town - let’s use the opportunity with MPAC to really get some stuff happening now," he said.
"I’ve also just written to the Minister because there is an exclusive zone in Northbridge that has had some of the [noise] regulations waved on it and I’ve asked for the same thing to be done in Mandurah."
Mandurah MP David Templeman said the issue of noise restraints is one he hopes to tackle with the help of the state government.
A vibrant live music sector in Mandurah and our region is great for developing the creative talents of our locals, creates opportunities for tourism and events, and adds to the diversity of our community.Mandurah MP David Templeman
“Our local licensed venues play an important role in supporting and encouraging our local live performing artists,” Mr Templeman said.
“Most of the venues are privately owned however, and constrained by regulations around noise.
“This is something that the McGowan Government has committed to address through the introduction of a State Planning Policy on live performance to streamline the approvals process for live performance, ensuring consistency across local governments.”
Mr Templeman said he was keen to see a “continued development” of a vibrant live music scene in Mandurah.
“Ultimately a vibrant live music sector in Mandurah and our region is great for developing the creative talents of our locals, creates opportunities for tourism and events, and adds to the diversity of our community,” he said.
Mr Williams said he shares the vision of Mandurah being a bustling, lively arts and culture scene but wants the opinion of the community in order to move forward with a plan.
“I would welcome that if there was a group of local people who were passionate about getting together for a discussion about live music and see how it goes and were prepared to get involved and work with us to make things happen,” he said.
“There’s an appetite – if the community get on board, we can turn Mandurah into a huge music destination.”