Wollongong City Council is at it again. Kill performing arts! Make it the private residence of only the select chosen few who live in the IPAC (which was community-built incidentally).

Council passed a motion to adopt a plan and allocate some $170,000 in funding for live music, evening economy and general cultural strategies for the city. That was back on May 12. Pass by 6 councillors to 5. 

Councillors who were uncomfortable with “budgeting on the run”, put a rescission motion to remove any reference to funding any new projects.

Council’s decision to not fund live music is an excellent thing! Full praise to Wollongong Council! All hail the avenging forces of sense! Performing arts should and must be killed off in this city. There is no room for musical sounds in the steel city. In fact, music is offensive as it goes against the un-pitched percussive noise of thudding industry that we are told we prefer. 

Wollongong deserves less than live music. We don’t want it! We want pavements. Lots of them. Wherever grass is, pave it. We want paid-for-parking – no freebies for us like those Shellharbour types! We want Piccadilly to remain an undeveloped eyesore for another thirty years. We want none of the grass to be cut – ever. That is all music to our ears. When the decaying filth of the steel city of dilapidation is so happily abundant, we need no music, for ours is the music of trash. And it’s free! Untaxed and undervalued. We’re sitting on a fortune, surely.

The funding of live music will only help to grow an aura for the city characterised by spontaneity and expressionism that is entirely inconsistent with the visual aesthetic of the great city of Wollongong. Our beautifully middling city strives for the great greyness of yesteryear when the introduction of traffic lights was a moment for thought and a place for people to come together in musical performance was a nightmare. Ours is a city which prefers short sleeves and a tie – the look of a 1970’s science teacher, to the eclectic chic glory of a contemporary and sexy woman who has a point to prove and knows how to do it. Our “central” glory most ably represents this potent striving for banality – the Wollongong City Mall “IMPROVEMENTS”, is all about concretely and diligently not moving forward toward any visual element of delight or momentarily stepping out of the shadows and into the warmth of sunlight cast by bright art. Performing artists have no place in Wollongong. They can go to Mulawah Correctional Centre which, incidentally, has more greenery and visual appeal than a stroll down the mall.

That’s why how home grown locals, amateurs and spirited creatives have no home at the Illawarra Performing Arts Centre that we, the community, built. It’s why the council loves us not. It’s why we are encouraged to play for “experience”. It’s why we live in this great town. So we can accompany it, not perform for it. 

So I say, why fund the indefensible? Why fund the musical types? Who could possibly want Wollongong to find the next Beethoven or Mozart in it’s midst? I mean let’s get serious… it’s not like any budding Morrissey is out there jotting down inspirations while taking a calm walk through the post-apocalyptic paradise-cacaphony that is Wollongong mall these days. That kind of thing never happens here. Maybe Newcastle and other “progressive wannabes” but not here. We’re better than that right?

Reminds me of the time Dame Joan Sutherland came here to compete in our eisteddfod. We put her in her place didn’t we! “Dame Joan who?” Let’s do the same to musicians everywhere! We should hunt them down and burn their instruments on the pavement in front of the IPAC. It will send a strong message to all the right people! Go on Wollongong! Viva la gong!

Councillors Janice Kershaw, Chris Connor, David Brown, Gordon Bradbery, George Takacs, Leigh Colacino and Bede Crasnich supported the rescission on Monday night, while councillors Ann Martin, Michelle Blicavs, Jill Merrin and Greg Petty voted against. See today’s Illawarra Mercury online for more on this disgrace.


Aaron Kernaghan is Principal Solicitor at Kernaghan & Associates, a law firm based in Wollongong. He and the firm are major patrons of the performing arts throughout the region. The views expressed herein are his own opinions and do not necessarily represent the views of the company.