ACT News

Noise complaints threaten live jazz music at New Acton

Riled neighbours deaf to Friday jazz sessions.

New Acton might be forced to shut down its Summer program of afternoon jazz and other music in the courtyard just weeks after starting, after nearby apartment residents complained about the noise.

The Ben Drysdale Funk Trio playing a gig at the Courtyard.
The Ben Drysdale Funk Trio playing a gig at the Courtyard. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Molonglo Group events manager and cultural coordinator David Caffery said the New Acton precinct, which had created a vibrant scene through its art and performance program, had fallen victim to the same problems experienced in larger cities where music venues had clashed with inner city neighbours.

"I'm speaking very plainly here, we are having problems presenting jazz in our courtyard during the day. Some residents don't like it, and they have the legal opportunity to bring the full power of the law against us," Mr Caffery said.

"I'm just talking about jazz and funk from 5pm-7.30pm on a Friday afternoon, people just rile up as soon as you start playing. Imagine if we were trying to play rock or electronic music, we have given up trying to present loud volume music at New Acton, we simply cannot do it which kills me, because I run the ACT music awards, I want to see this kind of thing flourish."

Mr Caffery said the problem was not unique to New Acton, it was becoming increasingly difficult for music venues across the city to host live music during the evening without coming into conflict with residents. 


New Acton East body corporate chairman Richard Hay said the matter was a simple case of bars, restaurants and other venues near residences failing to adhere to the noise limits placed on them by the Environment Protection Authority. Mr Hay said he was receiving two or three complaints a month from the 32 residences in his building above the New Acton courtyard, and was aware of noise complaints in other residential buildings in the precinct.

"If you've got an appartment here, why should you lose your ability to use your verandahs and open your doors every Sunday afternoon or every Friday night because someone decides to hold a commercial function in the courtyard? I'm quite sure if I got out on my verandah, put my stereo system up to 70dB or 80dB and blurted it down into the courtyard, the commercial people would have a lot to say," Mr Hay said.

"We had the Parlour wine bar bring in a five-piece brass band last year. That might be alright in the middle of Civic, but it's not okay in a residential area."

An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said there had been ongoing discussions between residents and the Molonglo Group since last year surrounding noise issues. To date there had been no validated breaches of the 55dB daytime or 45dB 10pm onwards noise limits, but she could not comment on ongoing investigations.

The EPA spokeswoman said the ACT Government encouraged parties to first consider the impact their noise levels were having on neighbours, but the authority would consider applying noise polution laws if those negotiations were unsuccessful.