CBR Venues Reveal Their Plans For Amp It Up! Funding

By Allan Sko

The Amp It Up! fund was developed to assist small to medium sized live venues to recover after the impacts of COVID-19, as well as to grow opportunities for local musicians and other performance artists to get back on stage and give Canberrans some great live entertainment options throughout 2021.

23 live entertainment venues across the ACT will share in nearly $800,000 to help support local gigs and get the night-time economy going again.

As a result, we caught up with some of the venues to find out how they’re gonna splash the cash, and thus what we can look forward to in the months ahead.

Blackbird Bar

We will be using the money from the grant to improve our sound system and equipment, as well as:

– Build a large more user friendly stage for our performers.

– Bring big name artists from outside of Canberra to blackbird.

– Support the local music scene by having different live artists every night we’re open.

– We will also open roughly one Sunday per month doing big name ticketed events

– Increase our marketing reach for events

We’re very grateful for this opportunity and excited.

Follow us on Facebook and instagram for updates on all of our events


The Boardwalk Bar & Nightclub

We are bringing live music back to Belconnen! Situated on the shore of Lake Ginninderra, The Boardwalk Bar and Nightclub is the premier entertainment hub that you must not miss! Featuring live music duos from local artists every Wednesday from 7:30pm and monthly performances from a variety of bands as well as an exciting new full production show – STUN! A Queer Variety Show. Check our Facebook events for details.

Peter Dorree – Owner

The Front

The Front is an intimate venue in the inner north looking for weekly acts on Friday evenings. We would love to showcase Canberra’s diverse music scene and we are open to all genres! You can fill out a gig enquiry form at frontgallerycafe.com to let us know if you and your bandmates are keen!

Mimir / Events Manager @The Front

UC Live

UC Live will be hosting a huge program of local and touring artists, whilst predominantly using the funding to pay for our technician’s wages. We’re also hoping to run some much-needed all-ages events!

Kels – Live Music Manager

Gang Gang

Gang Gang’s Amp It Up program is built around bringing bigger interstate acts into Canberra under the proviso that we get to pick the supports. This will provide a bunch of local artists with the invaluable experience of performing and hanging out with nationally and internationally successful artists. Something which can be quite hard to come by for Canberra bands.

We are also super happy to be able to provide guarantees to some amazing local artists that will be launching their singles and albums.

We’re so excited to see what this invaluable program does for our local scene over the next six months! 

Sam Conway – Co-Owner/Manager

The Basement

The Basement Canberra crew and community are stoked to have the support of the ACT Government through the Amp It Up! grant. With their help, we’re keeping our doors open and our stages lights on, despite global uncertainty and local restrictions on freedom of movement.  


Let the bands play on!

Mik and Nic Bergersen – New Owners!


sideway is using the Amp It Up fund to continue to host and support local and interstate performers. A week at the venue features free live music Thursdays, Funk, Jazz and Soul music Fridays, electronic music on Saturdays, and live music on Sunday afternoons. Some of the exciting guests coming include Sydney-based funk artist Setwun and South Sudanese legend Gordon Koang. 

Finbar – Owner/Manager

Smith’s Alternative

We proposed a two-pronged strategy. Sunny Spring Sundays: a weekly series of free outdoor concerts on our street front, featuring the best and liveliest of Canberra bands every Sunday afternoon for thirteen weeks. 

Smith’s Wish List: a smaller number of concerts featuring Australian bands not normally in our league aimed at raising Smith’s profile both amongst the local music audience and the national music industry – 

Nigel McRae – Venue Owner/Manager

King O’Malley’s

King O’Malley’s has been supporting free live music in Canberra for over 20 years. Thanks to a grant from the ACT Government’s Amp It Up fund we will be able to support even more musicians by increasing both the variety of music and adding extra sessions.

Musicians and their supporters  have been particularly hard hit with  the COVID 19  restrictions and this round of grants is very timely and welcome.

Peter Barclay – Managing Director


Hippo is a live music institution in the ACT with over 20 years of weekly live jazz in the venue on Wednesday evenings. In 2018 we started a weekly blues night on Mondays. Hippo is built on supporting local musicians perform in a relaxed, friendly, and warm environment. With the Amp It Up grant funds we will reintroduce two nights of live music at Hippo, supporting our local musicians to perform for Monday Night Blues (from 8pm) and dedicated Jazz on Wednesday evenings (from 8:30pm).

Kylie Preston – Director

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