Archive for the ‘Live Music Censorship’ Category

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House of Lords logoVenues in England and Wales with a capacity of under 200 people no longer need a licence for live music, as long as it is not late at night. The change in law is part of a government move to free businesses from a little of the mass of red tape. Live unamplified music can also now be played in any location, regardless of the audience size, under the act.

However, the government has made it clear there would be no changes on the rules controlling gatherings of more than 5,000 people, boxing and wrestling, and events such as lap-dancing clubs classed as sexual entertainment.

Musicians and business owners have welcomed the change, which will allow live music to be played between the hours of 08:00 and 23:00. Jazz musician Buster Birch described the change as a huge thing , adding that live music is very important for our society and our culture .

UK Music, which represents the music industry, estimates that the Live Music Act could enable 13,000 more venues to start holding live music events.

Business Minister Michael Fallon said:

From today businesses are freed from the red tape that holds them back.

He described the previous rules that affected pub gigs and small live performances as over-the-top bureaucracy that stifles community groups and pubs.

We’ve set ourselves the challenging target of scrapping or reducing a total of 3,000 regulations. I’m determined to slim down regulation and make Britain an easier place to start and run a business.

The change was introduced through a private member’s bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat Don Foster. The success is a relatively rare example of a House of Lords private member’s bill making it into law.

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In a Britain being impoverished by suffocating state fees and restrictions, is this the first minor improvement in actually letting entertainers earn some money?

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House of Commons logoA private member’s bill, introduced by Liberal Democrat Don Foster, will lift some of the state control and restrictions imposed on gigs by the 2003 Licensing Act.

The changes will mean that a licence will no longer be required for unamplified live music taking place between 08:00 and 23:00, and for amplified live music taking place between the same times before audiences of no more than 200.

The bill passed unopposed and will have to go back to the House Of Lords on the 10th of February before becoming law.

The MP from Bath was steering the bill through the House Of Commons on behalf of his Lib Dem colleague, Lord Clement Jones. The success is a relatively rare example of a House of Lords private member’s bill making it into law.

Foster explained:

It was said the Licensing Act 2003 was going to lead to an explosion of live music but, in the event, in small venues it was drastically cut.

We saw village halls, school halls, pubs and clubs reducing the the amount of live music, not increasing it.

Hopefully the bill, when it comes into law, will reverse that.

Separate to the private member’s bill, the government is conducting its own review of the Licensing Act.

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See article from bbc.co.uk

pub bandPubs, clubs and other small venues offering live music would no longer have to apply for an entertainment licence, under government proposals.

The plans, submitted for public consultation, would apply to premises in England and Wales with a capacity of under 5,000. Ministers say the changes could also apply to school and charity events.

Licences would still be required for boxing, wrestling and sexual entertainment, and the rules on alcohol supply and sales would not be affected.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said the Licensing Act 2003 removed the so-called two-in-a-bar rule, which had allowed two musicians to perform in a pub without needing an entertainment permit, and this was one example of how it ended up potentially criminalising a harmless cultural pastime.

Tourism Minister John Penrose said changes could provide an important source of new income to struggling businesses such as pubs, restaurants and hotels. He said extra costs and red tape had also been imposed on school plays and discos where ticket sales went to Parent Teacher Association funds, Punch and Judy shows, street artists, park brass bands and restaurant pianists.

Penrose added:

Before we press ahead, it’s important we get the views of those working in the industry, and to make sure that the principles of public safety, prevention of public nuisance and the protection of children from harm are safeguarded.

Our starting point is a simple one: If there’s no good reason for any of the rules and restrictions in this important area, our presumption should be to scrap them.

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See article from guardian.co.uk

pub bandPubs and clubs wanting to offer live music would no longer be forced to apply to the local council for an entertainment licence under a planned deregulation aimed at supporting grassroots music.

The proposal is part of a government consultation to be unveiled by John Penrose, the tourism and heritage minister, amid warnings that small venues have been abandoning live music because of the bureaucracy introduced by the 2003 Licensing Act.

Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music, which represents the UK’s commercial music industry, said:

We’re optimistic that this will be positive news for the industry, and especially for emerging talent. I’d wager that all of yesterday’s Mercury music prize nominees started their careers playing in pubs or clubs. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait for the actual detail of the consultation, and under what specific circumstances the requirement for a music licence would be removed.

Parliamentarians have been calling for several years for the restriction to be removed. Prior to the 2003 Act, a two-in-a-bar exemption existed, allowing venues of any size to put on a performance of acoustic music by one or two musicians without the need for a licence.

However, the ministerial proposals are understood to go further than that. Large venues with a capacity of more than 5,000 would continue to be subject to premises licensing as before, but small venues would save on average £1,600 a year and be freed of the requirement to register with the council.

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See http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/livemusicevents

A petition to the government closed a few months ago. It read:

pub bandWe the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop criminalising live music with the Licensing Act, and to support amendments backed by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and the music industry, which would exempt most small-scale performances in schools, hospitals, restaurants and licensed premises.

Submitted by Phil Little of Live Music Forum.

Under the Licensing Act, a performance by one musician in a bar, restaurant, school or hospital not licensed for live music could lead to a criminal prosecution of those organising the event. Even a piano may count as a licensable entertainment facility. By contrast, amplified big screen broadcast entertainment is exempt.

The government says the Act is necessary to control noise nuisance, crime, disorder and public safety, even though other laws already deal with those risks. Musicians warned the Act would harm small events. About 50% of bars and 75% of restaurants have no live music permission. Obtaining permission for the mildest live music remains costly and time-consuming.

In May, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee recommended exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified performance by one or two musicians. The government said no. But those exemptions would restore some fairness in the regulation of live music and encourage grassroots venues.

Update: Government Response

27th October 2010. See article from hmg.gov.uk

The Petition closed with 16,949 signatures.

UK Government armsThe Government responded:

Currently the Coalition Government is reviewing the situation concerning live music performance at smaller venues, and the Minister for Tourism and Heritage, John Penrose MP, is considering the result of the Consultation on Live Music which closed in March.

The Coalition is committed to cutting Red Tape, to encourage live music and is keen to find the best way forward.  A number of options are being considered and the Minister will make an announcement in due course.

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Based on article from guardian.co.uk by Tim Clement-Jones

pub bandMy bill would exempt small venues from the absurdities of the Licensing Act, which is stifling emerging artists

In November last year, Britain’s Got Talent finalist Faryl Smith performed a song for her fans at an album signing at HMV in Kettering, Northamptonshire. The local council immediately threatened HMV with criminal prosecution because it hadn’t applied for a licence.

Back in May, the headteacher of a school in Daventry had to scrap the annual musical when he was told he risked a £20,000 fine or even imprisonment because the school hadn’t got a licence for the show.

And locals in Gloucestershire were bitterly disappointed last summer when a free brass band concert was cancelled at the last minute.

What links all these ridiculous situations is the Licensing Act, which stipulates that all live music performances need a licence, whatever the venue.

It is a result of these absurdities that I have introduced the live music bill which has just received a second reading in the House of Lords.

Small venues are vitally important to Britain’s creative culture. Many of our most successful and popular musicians started their careers gigging in bars, student unions or cafes. The decrease in live music in small venues, as evidenced by the DCMS’s most recent substantive survey into the act, is potentially denying us a generation of new performers.

The bill – which has the support of UK Music, the Musicians Union, Equity and the National Campaign for the Arts – amends the Licensing Act in three respects.

First, the bill establishes an exemption for live music in small venues. The exemption applies to a venue that has a licence for the sale of alcohol and has a permitted capacity of not more than 200 people. The live music can also only take place between 8am and midnight on the same day. This exemption is conditional on a mechanism that can trigger a local authority review and make live music in a venue licensable if complaints by local residents are upheld.

Second, the bill reintroduces the two-in-a-bar rule so that any performance of unamplified and minimally amplified live music of up to two people is exempt from the need for a licence.

Finally, the bill contains a total exemption for hospitals, schools and colleges from the requirement to obtain a licence for live music when providing entertainment where alcohol is not sold, and the entertainment involves no more than 200 persons. This will enable schools, colleges and hospitals to perform concerts and music therapy treatments which currently require licences.

The government’s consultation on this issue is flawed. The proposed exemption for up to 100 people is inadequate. The live music bill, supported by the recommendation of the House of Commons culture, media and sport committee, proposes that a figure of 200 would result in a more effective exemption.

The timing of the consultation and the process by which an exemption can be achieved is also put in jeopardy by the imminent general election which means the bill presents the most realistic opportunity to get a small gigs exemption in place this year. You can demonstrate your support for the bill by signing up to the No 10 Downing Street petition in support of the bill’s aims.