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Industry welcomes government’s latest live licensing consultation

By | Published on Monday 12 September 2011

Houses Of Parliament

Various representatives of the music business have welcomed the government’s latest consultation on entertainment licensing, which it’s hoped will, once and for all, remove bureaucracy put in place by the 2003 Licensing Act that makes it harder for grass roots gigs to take place.

As much previously reported, red tape introduced by the 2003 Act has had a negative impact on the number of pubs and such like staging music events, reducing the number of opportunities for grass roots musicians to play live. Various government and parliamentary reports have supported reducing the amount of bureaucracy associated with smaller gigs, and Lord Tim Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill made proposals as to how that could be done.

Although you might wonder – we did – whether the government really needs yet another consultation on this issue, given the reports that have gone before and Clement-Jones’s bill, which is still working its way through parliament, various music business reps have welcomed the announcement last week by Tourism & Heritage Minister John Penrose that his department will again consult, mainly because of increased optimism that this time something might actually be done about the unnecessary elements of the 2003 Act.

Having already spoken to The Guardian about the consultation last week, UK Music’s Feargal Sharkey told CMU over the weekend: “Earlier this year, UK Music highlighted how large-scale live music attracts £1.4bn of tourism to the UK. However, the success of our festivals and arenas – indeed, the success of our entire industry – is reliant upon a vibrant grass roots music scene. This is where raw talent emerges”.

“We are therefore delighted that government has adopted such a forward-thinking approach. Enabling live music to flourish has potential to drive social cohesion, entrepreneurialism and economic growth. While continuing to support Lord Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill, UK Music warmly welcomes this consultation and all other measures that would remove red tape for the benefit of musicians and creative talent”.

Musicians’ Union top man John Smith added: “We welcome this consultation and the government’s intention to cut red tape for live music. At the very least, we hope that the result will be to implement an exemption for small venues putting on live music with fewer than 200 people in attendance, which we have been lobbying for for many years now. We therefore also support the proposals outlined in Lord Clement-Jones’ Live Music Bill, which [proposes such an exemption]”.

Meanwhile Live Nation exec Paul Latham, speaking as head of the UK Live Music Group, which brings together various live sector trade bodies, said: “Live music provides a huge boost to the UK’s economy and is a significant part of this country’s social fabric. To ensure future success it is vital that we sustain a healthy grass roots scene, where musicians and artists from every region have the widest possible opportunity to build a career. It is pleasing that Government recognises this fact and we look forward to engaging with this consultation in the weeks ahead”.

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