Live events industry
Liberal peer Lord (Tim) Clement-Jones, whose party is now the junior partner in the UK’s coalition government, has reintroduced his Live Music Bill to the House of Lords, The Bill, in enacted, would make various changes to the 2003 Licensing Act, most of them recommended in 2009 by the Parliamentary Culture Media & Sport Select Committee (chaired by Conservative John Whittingdale) but ignored by the last Labour government – including re-introducing the ‘two in a bar’ rule for pubs (where two or one musicians can perform without the need for a licence), removing small venues from licensing requirements and allowing hospitals, schools and colleges to perform live music without the need for a licence. The Bill attempts to implement some of the 2009 Report which said that licensing conditions were stifling live music and that “We are concerned at the linkage of live music and public order issues by the Licensing Act and its accompanying guidance, and we emphasise that music should not automatically be treated as a disruptive activity which will inevitably lead to nuisance and disorder,” and the Report also said “To encourage the performance of live music we recommend that the Government should exempt venues with a capacity of 200 persons or fewer from the need to obtain a licence for the performance of live music. We further recommend the reintroduction of the two-in-a-bar exemption, enabling venues of any size to put on a performance of non-amplified music by one or two musicians”.
The Bill was previously discussed in both the House of Lords and the House of Commons but was put aside when parliament dissolved for the last election and was to an extent overshadowed by the Digital Economy bill which did become law. The Bill centres on removing the bureaucracy introduced by the 2003 Act for smaller gigs, especially those in pubs. Before the Licensing Act even became law campaigners argued it would make the staging grass roots gigs more complicated, meaning fewer pubs and small venues would do so, reducing the number of platforms through which new talent can get exposure. Commenting on the launch of his Bill, Lord Clement-Jones said “We were literally promised ‘an explosion’ of live music when the Licensing Act went through in 2003, yet the reality has been a major reduction in performances in the small venues which are so important to new artists” adding “This Bill will provide crucial exemptions and free small venues from the bureaucracy and cost of the Act which I am sure will be of major benefit to Britain’s talented musicians and the many millions of people who enjoy live music.”
In other UK licensing news, on July 21st it was announced that responsibility for the Licensing Act would revert from the DCMS (Department of Culture, Olympics, Media & Sport) back to the Home Office except in relation to regulated entertainment such as live music. Home Secretary Theresa May is also currently leading a “complete review” of the Licensing Act and is considering introducing a late night levy on premises.