The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #58909   Message #935239
Posted By: The Shambles
17-Apr-03 - 03:18 AM
Thread Name: UK Government to license Morris Dancing
Subject: UK Government to license Morris Dancing
The latest from our friends at the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport. Whilst reading this letter, please remember just how hard the Government are trying to make this sound like good news and also this department is supposed to be promoting our culture.

Thank you for your e-mail of 13 March to Dr Kim Howells, about the Licensing Bill. I am replying on his behalf.

The definition of regulated entertainment can be found in the Licensing Bill, Schedule 1. The Bill, along with explanatory notes, can now be read or downloaded from our web site ( ) under New Responsibilities; news; the parliament website.

As you may know spontaneous performance is not licensable. Where a public house has advertised that Morris dancers would be in attendance, a licence would then be necessary. However, this should not prevent dancing from taking place as the pub owner, who has to obtain the new licence to sell alcohol, can simultaneously apply for permission to provide any amount of entertainment at no extra cost.

Outdoor events would benefit from the more informal system of permitted temporary activities under the Bill that requires only a simple notification to the licensing authority and the police and a small fee of around £20.

Although outdoor events would be licensable under the Bill, we will be
encouraging local authorities to licence public open spaces, such as village greens, on which many performances take place. No additional licence would need to be obtained by dancers or anyone else carrying out licensable activities covered by such a licence, although the consent of the local authority holding the licence would be required.

Also, under the Bill the provision of any entertainment or entertainment facilities at a garden fete, or at a function or event of a similar character, is not to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment. This, however, does not apply if the fete, function or event is promoted with a view to applying the whole or part of its proceeds for purposes of private gain.

You may be interested to learn that Dr Howells recently held a meeting with representatives of the English Folk Dance and Song Society and the Morris Federation, among other Morris dancing organisations, to discuss their concerns.

I enclose, for your information, an updated copy of the fact sheet that explains how the Licensing Bill would affect public entertainment. This incorporates the amendment to the Licensing Bill to exempt the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities at places of public religious worship from the need for an authorisation under the Bill and our decision to exempt village, parish and community halls from the need to pay a licence
fee in respect of the provision of regulated entertainment.

It also refers to the Government's commitment to exempt schools and sixth form colleges where the entertainment or facilities are provided by the school from the fees associated with the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities under the Bill.

The fact sheet also contains the amendment to the Bill that clarifies that regulated entertainment would not be provided for consideration and with a view to profit in circumstances where a charity intended simply to cover the costs of a private event. Events that were not intended to make a profit but only to cover costs would not be licensable only because consideration was involved.

Furthermore, we have incorporated in the fact sheet the amendment to the Bill which makes it clear that entertainers who performed at unlicensed venues and did nothing else in relation to the provision of regulated entertainment would not be committing an offence.

There is also a reference to the amendment that was made to the Bill in the House of Lords but resisted by the Government, which provided an exemption for the provision of entertainment or entertainment facilities at events attended by no more than 250 people at one time and which finish before 11.30pm. The Government has overturned this amendment because, in addition to the small-scale events intended to be covered by the exemption, a great deal of potentially undesirable activity would be without any kind of regulatory control whatsoever. It would, for instance, completely undermine the film classification system. Film classifications are currently enforced through conditions on licences. This amendment would mean that any film
showing attended by fewer than 250 people could not have a classification imposed, potentially allowing young children to watch violent or pornographic films with no restriction or control. It would also remove the right of the police to object on grounds of protection of children from harm if an unsuitable person - perhaps someone involved with drugs - tried to organise a musical event for up to local children.

We will be working with musicians' representatives, local authorities and industry, to inform the drawing up by us of statutory guidance for licensing authorities with the aim that venues can put on live music more easily, while protecting the rights of local residents. This follows concerns expressed by musicians that licensees will be discouraged from putting on entertainment by a fear that licensing authorities will impose unnecessary and costly conditions to their licences, such as requesting expensive alterations to venues. The guidance will recommend for licensing authorities what would be appropriate conditions.

The Government has also accepted the principle that the performance of live music which is incidental to activities which are not themselves entertainment or the provision of entertainment facilities should be exempt from the provisions of the Bill, along with the playing of recorded music which is incidental to activities which are not themselves entertainment or the provision of entertainment facilities.

We believe that the Bill will make it more affordable than now to stage live entertainment in the vast majority of cases and increase opportunities for musicians and other artists to perform. In short, entertainers have nothing to fear from this Bill, but much to gain from it. I hope this letter reassures you.

Claire Vickers
Alcohol & Entertainment Licensing Branch
Department for Culture, Media and Sport
3rd Floor
2-4 Cockspur Street

Tel: 020 7211 6380
Fax: 020 7211 6319