LICENCING
Live Concert Industry

The London Evening Standard reported (08/04/03) that the Astoria in Charing Cross Road faces a fight for its public entertainment licence after Westminster Council renewed efforts to remove the venue’s public entertainment licence. The venue has had a number of high profile problems and in the eight months between September 2001 and May 2002 the emergency services were called to the venue 152 times. In October 2001 there was a double shooting linked to rap band So Solid Crew at the Astoria.
The Council initially refused the venue’s licence but the Astoria’s owners, the Mean Fiddler Group Plc, successfully appealed the decision in the Magistrate’s Court. Westminster Council have now lodged an appeal against the Magistrate’s decision asking the superior court to uphold the original decision to refuse the licence. The case will be heard before the Superior Court who will review the magistrate’s decision.

COMMENT : Licensing law in the United Kingdom is currently under review by Parliament (see Law Updates March 2003 Musicians Union Spearheads Challenge to Proposed Licensing Legislation) and new provisions regulating the private security industry will soon be incorporated into UK law. The House of Lords have rejected parts of the proposed licensing legislation, returning the bill to the House of Commons with amendments specifically exempting venues with a capacity of less than 250 from the need to obtain a public entertainment licence. This goes further than the current ‘two in a bar’ rule where the only venues not needing a licence are those featuring two or less performers at any performance and would hopefully encourage small venues to promote live music.

However in light of the two recent US tragedies (in Chicago and Rhode Island) health and safety remains an important concern in the live concert industry.
For further information see www.audience.uk.com