License article

For those about to rock, the pokies may be paying for it

One-armed bandits are blamed for robbing Sydney of its live music scene, but pokies may be the saviour of the industry under a plan adopted by the City of Sydney.

The council will lobby the state government to support the live music industry using money from gaming revenue.

It is one of 57 recommendations in the City of Sydney's Live Music Taskforce's final action plan that were unanimously adopted at a meeting of councillors on Monday.

A City of Sydney spokeswoman said a similar program in South Australia had become a valuable resource supporting live music and performance, providing $850,000 for the industry.

''The introduction of a similar fund in NSW would provide much needed additional resources for projects to develop industry capacity, create opportunities for all-ages live music and performance activity, and create international opportunities for local artists.''

She said the suggestion to use gaming revenue to fund live music had come from the National Live Music Office, whose co-director is John Wardle. He said: ''Music, food, gaming are all important parts of the night economy, so I think with good precedents in other states, it's a very interesting option to take.''

Yet Mr Wardle has not always been so enamoured of poker machines. ''At the end of 1997 I returned from a year backpacking around the world to find most of those gigs shut down and replaced with poker machines,'' he told the Herald in 2007. ''I went from Sydney where there was plenty of work and a bit of a vibe, and returned to a sad and diminished cultural life.''

But he said he was ''comfortable'' with the council's decision to advocate for gaming revenue for a community development fund for live music.

A spokesman for the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, Mark Zirnsak, said gaming revenue should be spent on dealing with issues caused by problem gambling.