UK government announces licensing reforms

June 2011

Live events industry

The UK’s coalition government has announced plans to reform the country’s much criticised Licensing Act to do away with the ‘red tape’ that many says stifles the development of grass roots music. The Tourism Minister, John Penrose, said that in the future only events of over 5,000 people or those that sell alcohol  or where there is adult entertainment will need licences  with Penrose saying  “the current regime makes it harder for new talent to get a chance to perform  In front of audiences and imposes a deadweight cost on small businesses and voluntary  bodies who want to put on shows” adding “live entertainment is a good thing: it improves our cultural life and should be encouraged, not stifled by the clammy hand of bureaucracy” promising that proper controls on alcohol, health and safety and noise nuisance would remain. However the new provisions aim to address issues of alcohol-related violence in The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill currently in the House of Lords in the UK are causing concern – among the provisions are amendments to the Licensing Act 2003 to give the police and local authorities stronger powers to remove or refuse to grant licenses to premises that are causing problems and includes proposals that would give more people within a local area the right to object to Temporary Event Licences and make it easier for local authorities to impose conditions on organisers of such events. So less regulation … but more regulation! Claire O’Neill, the Association of Independent Festivals General Manager said “We are incredibly concerned that changes to the bill will be passed with a ‘one size fits all’ approach that could be a further blow to UK festivals and music events. Festivals are one of the few places that people come together to celebrate and enjoy life in a relatively incident free environment, certainly compared with town centres on a Friday night. We urge the House of Commons Committee to reconsider those aspects of the Bill that will be detrimental to this positive social and cultural phenomenon”.

On the same day a new report from UK Music and Bournemouth University was published showing just how much music tourism generates for the wider UK economy. Destination: Music – the contribution that live music makes to the tourism economy. Highlights from the report includes the fact that live music in the UK attracts at least 7.7 million attendances by music tourists  and that they spent £1.4 billion during the course of their trips – contributing £864 million to the national economy and sustaining the equivalent of 19,700 full time jobs. The data shows that domestic tourists make up 95% of all music tourists, while overseas tourists make up 5% – but overseas tourists contribute 18% of total spending and overseas music tourists spend a quarter more in the UK than the average overseas tourist
The research analysed the data of more than 2.5 million ticket transactions at larger events (5000+) to calculate the proportion of people who attend live music events whom were classified as a music tourist.  This data was then cross-referenced against the substantial body of work already conducted on live music and tourism.  The full report can be downloaded here:

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