Live music and performance

Live music and performance

Next application round opens 2021

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We’re a strong supporter of live music and performance.

We’ve expanded our business support program to include funding for new and existing live music and performance venues, rehearsal and recording studios and spaces for creative production and participation.

The new live music and performance grant provides support for capital investments to introduce or improve related programming.

The grant aims to increase the quantity and quality of live music and performance venues in our area.

It also aims to improve the acoustic performance and suitability of live music and performance venues.

Who can apply

The program is open to not-for-profit, for-profit organisations and sole trader businesses in our local area.

Applicants can either be:

  • a creative, retail, entertainment, tourism and accommodation or hospitality business
  • land owners wanting to activate vacant space for creative or nightlife uses
  • an arts/cultural operator based in the City of Sydney local area.

What you can apply for

You can apply for up to $20,000 matched cash funding for projects.

You must demonstrate your own cash contribution equal to the funds requested from us.

You are welcome to apply for multiple distinct projects, either in the same round or over time. The grants program can't support projects retrospectively. Please ensure your project commences after the eligible start date.

What the funding covers

Funding is available to existing and new venues for capital investments (such as works or equipment) that will:

  • help venues manage sound transfer to surrounding properties, or improve audience experience
  • allow a business to introduce new live music or performance programming
  • help an existing venue improve or significantly expand their existing programming
  • improve the in-venue health and safety of audiences, performers and venue staff.

What you need to show

Priority is given to applications that provide clear evidence of the issues they are facing, as well as a sound strategy for addressing them. Priority will also be given to applicants who have not already received City of Sydney grant funding in 2020, including Covid-19 programs.

You will need to show:

  • the ability and experience necessary, and a thorough understanding of best practice, to undertake the project
  • business planning to support a financially sustainable live music or performance program
  • how your programming will contribute to the goals of your business, as well as the cultural or economic character of the neighbourhood
  • willingness to meet with the City’s planning team if planning consent is needed
  • an ability to complete the project within 12 months of the funding approval date, unless otherwise agreed.

Key dates

There are 2 grant rounds a year.

Funding is available for 1 year only.

How you can apply

The City’s grants and sponsorship programs are competitive.

Please read our grants and sponsorship guidelines before you apply.

Demonstrating the need for your project

There are many types of evidence that will help demonstrate why your project is important. These could include:

  • Sound – acoustic reports, evidence of neighbourhood amenity complaints, artist or audience feedback.
  • Capital investments to introduce or expand programming – market research, demographic data, audience feedback, letters of support from relevant industry representatives or industry/precinct associations
  • Health and safety – evidence of prior incidents in your venue or in other similar venues, industry research, letters of support from relevant industry representatives or industry/precinct associations.

For general advice on how to start your application, talk to the City’s Strategy Advisor – Live Music and Performance.

They may also recommend other professional advice, such as from an acoustic consultant.


Lex Davidson
Strategy Advisor – Live Music and Performance
02 9265 9169

Case studies

Holcomb’s Still

Holcomb’s Still is a bar in the city centre. Established in 2010, it has a capacity of 200 people and focuses on American-influenced drinks and food.

Having established the business as a popular bar, the business owners have signed an additional 5-year lease and are planning to introduce live music on Wednesdays and Thursday, with the possibility of weekend nights in the future.

They are seeking support to install a low-rise stage suitable for a band, as well as sound equipment and basic lighting.

Holcomb’s would be eligible to apply to the City for a matched contribution to the cost of purchasing and installing the stage and equipment.

Sugar Hiccup

A group of music community members want to create a not-for-profit all-ages music venue.

After securing a space in Chippendale with a development consent that covers the programming they want to do, they begin booking shows on Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday afternoons.

After 3 months the management committee begin receiving complaints from neighbours about sound impacts, especially from people entering and exiting the venue.

The committee decides they need professional advice on how to manage the issue, and make capital investments in the venue such as acoustic seals, double glazing, heavy curtains and a sound lock door.Sugar Hiccup would be able to apply to the City for a matched contribution to the cost of seeking professional acoustic advice, as well as for the works or investments recommended by the consultant.

Spotted Pony Theatre

The Spotted Pony is a heritage pub in Newtown. It has a well-known kitchen and bar, an outdoor beer garden and hosts a live music residency on Friday and Saturday nights.

The pub owners are approached by a local theatre group proposing to convert the first floor of the venue – currently used for storage – into an independent theatre for hire. The pub owners agree to provide the space and an initial investment towards its fitout.

The theatre group develops a 3-year strategy focusing on the incremental development of the space.

In the first year, they decide to invest in basic lighting and sound equipment, seating and seating risers.

The Spotted Pony Theatre Group would be able to apply to the City for funding to match the pub owner's investment, as a contribution toward the cost of developing the venue.

Key dates

Grant round 1

  • Applications open: 5 February 2020
  • Applications close: 9 March 2020
  • Project timeframe: 1 August 2020–31 July 2021
  • Recommendations to Council: 29 June 2020

Grant round 2

  • Applications open: 29 July 2020
  • Applications close: 31 August 2020
  • Project timeframe: 1 January 2021–31 December 2021
  • Recommendations to Council: 16 November 2020

Recommendations to Council is the time when applications are discussed and councillors decide to support or reject the recommendations presented to them.

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Last updated: Tuesday, 1 September 2020