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  • Meg Benson, Music Hunter

The Big Picture

You may be forgiven for thinking Music Hunter is doing a little less this year than usual. Appearances can be deceptive. 2018 has been about the expanding horizon in the scope of musical and cultural impact. Our vision has always been broad, and collaborative opportunities are increasing after a decade of persistence.

The focus has not just been on the delivery of exceptional events presented by Music Hunter, it's also been about teaming up with others and barracking for a greater cause , more opportunities for musicians and audiences and for everyone who help them. Music Hunter has always been underpinned by philanthropic motives for the Musician, the Punter and the greater industry and community, 2018 has brought with it many opportunities to advocate and collaborate and now Music Hunter’s values have blossomed into action.

Examples include collaborating with Varuna Writers Centre in March 2018 and The BM Cultural Centre, Teaming up with Blue Mountains City Council to apply for funds from Create NSW for KATOOMBA LIVE AND LOCAL an initiative by the Live Music Office and consequently accepting the position as Curator, Event Organiser and Promoter. We Paid 80 local musicians a benchmark payment of $150 each for a 45 min set, and then a few months later I teamed up with Fusion Boutique and BMCC to deliver Katoomba Solstice as inspired by Live and Local and to respond to the gap from the cancelled 2018 Winter Magic Festival by providing economic stimulus via arts entertainment .

Over the last few weeks I've lent a small hand toward an arts funding application for Winter Magic. Cross fingers!

This year I've been to two round table music industry discussions initiated by both local and state governments.( Pictured above at the Parramatta Riverside for the 1st Create NSW Music Industry workshop)

At 7.30pm tomorrow night on ARTHouse 89.1FM during my monthly radio segment; Adventures in Music, I'm going live with music industry guests to continue the dialogue.

The group discussion continues to identify the challenges, needs and ideas for the future development of contemporary music in NSW. With 3 main subject areas as discussed in the recent CREATE NSW music industry workshop held at Parramatta Riverside. We will discuss 1/. · The essentials of a thriving NSW contemporary music industry: What are the desired outcomes for a successful NSW Contemporary Music Strategy? ·2/. Themes emerging from the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into the Music and Arts Economy in NSW and other research. 3/. Share current initiatives and identify potential opportunities for Government and the music sector to work together to support a thriving contemporary music industry.

Muso's do this!!

and the Federal Govt survey closing tomorrow!!

Next month on Thursday Oct 18, Hooray, I'll be an awards recipient at the Local 2018 Creative Leader Awards night hosted by the Blue Mountains Creative Arts Network and on the same evening, they are launching their new website.

In addition I was asked to curate the entertainment, and assist with the event organising. I don't think I've won an award since high school, so I'd be chuffed if you will join us . Tune into the BMCAN Launch & Creative Leader Awards at our Facebook event here.

So the big picture keeps getting bigger and you can find out a little more about our evolution since our our origins by reading further:

Music Hunter emerged quite alone back in 2010 as a response to a cultural blackspot in the timeline of music in our Mountains (this challenge was mirrored Australia wide). It was when the Iconic Clarendon’s gigs were frequently being cancelled due to minimal pre bookings and a lack of confidence in the habits of local punters. It was pre-Blue Mountains Theatre Hub and Blue Mountains Cultural Centre, Pre-Fusion Boutique, Retro Rehash, Haze Magazine and Music In the Mountains. No doubt we were a a planter of seeds bringing awareness to the community about the appreciators role in either turning a blind eye to the growing cultural nothingness or rather instead participating in a hopeful antidote fueled by collective participation to save the scene. Music Hunter would be the pied piper of Music Hunters en masse. I'm not the promoter up the back counting cash, I’m in there on the dancefloor as an appreciator first, getting my own wallet out, leading by example, understanding the punter's perspective "getting" why we all need music.

I’ve certainly tried to be a we at times. And even when I fulfilled every role in my organisation I implemented the use of “we” to avoid the abhorrent effect of appearing individualistic while always being motivated by the collective. Aside from paying muso's, venues, advertising and engineers, I did not have the cash flow to pay others but I could at least volunteer to work for myself free and have done so for 9 years.

Music Hunter began the open conversations from get go about the interdependent factors that lead to success or failure in the music scene, and rather than keeping trade secrets close to our heart, we risked transparency for a greater cause, even though we may be mimicked, we may be reproduced, we may even be improved upon.

For what ends?

May musicians and their families have access to food and shelter

May they not be subjected to being background noise.

May audiences grasp the importance of splurging on a monthly dosage of inspiring cultural food.

May isolated people realise they don't need to be.

May the financially challenged comprehend the cost effectiveness of music and arts as a social well-being plan that transcends the benefits of prozac, methods of intoxication and hopefully break through the relentlessness of groundhog day.

Rather simple hopes and at the same time grand.

It was after two month-long trips to the Netherlands that revealed their differences; middle income people there do not buy real estate, they have long term housing security, so their disposable income easily accounts for access to arts and culture. Theatres in a country the size of Tasmania were booked out for 6 weeks for one show with 600 to 1000 seats.

Sure the population density is a factor on the bums on the seats equation. Yet Australia’s housing inflation affects everything from disposable income to the overheads of Music Venues themselves (all too often venues depend on alcohol sales for continuity), and even then the spreadsheets are hard to balance. It is my view that we need better social policies to reduce inflation from impact of the side effects from the profiteering of negative gearing, Australians are spending too much on housing as renters and first home buyers, with less dosh leftover for the arts and healthy living.

It was 2010 when Music Hunter emerged with our first event experiment engaging 180 people at a ticket price of $30 each including a meal with 2 five piece bands and a great sound system. The only independent organiser playmate in the field at the time was LIVE at The VIllage, a talented committee in Springwood who had simultaneously united as a not for profit, to get serious about generating respectful opportunities for musicians and audiences, All power to them.

With no delusions about getting rich quick (or even at all) I decided to “do it anyway”-as inspired by epic Gillian welch song Everything is Free-to set about growing the cultural probiotics for the health of society and minimise the despair of the talented Australian musicians.

The initial aim was to understand and crack the art of audience development, figure out how to teach the punter to sustain the arts that do in fact sustain us back, even when our government policies and lack of strategies were failing, the people would need to do our bit. Walk the talk, even broke musos should learn to share their income with their colleagues and dare I say it competitors.

For this reason, all musicians can come to Music Hunter Events at concession rates.

During my house concert phase in 2011, I made an MDI discount card for my gigs, Musicians on a Disadvantaged Income. With this many great musicians in our community, they'll make up a large proportion of audiences.

So Muso's raise your voices and do your surveys.


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