The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59030   Message #939165
Posted By: The Shambles
24-Apr-03 - 09:48 AM
Thread Name: PEL: Doc Roew gets through to Minister !!!
Subject: RE: PEL: Doc Roew gets through to Minister !!!
The following is Eliza's question - and the Borg collective's answer.

Eliza Carthy

I represent a minority interest music and culture that is linked to the musical traditions and calendar ceremonies of England. Recent interest in the old Public Entertainment Licensing Bill caused the closure of many long-standing sessions, folk clubs and open 'mic' evenings. The local councils decided to err on the side of regulation and shut down mainly acoustic and informal evenings, depriving many areas of enjoyable small-scale live music events and frustrating and scattering local musicians.

It's no exaggeration to say that what the Government decides will effect the way tens of thousands of people watch and participate in the arts and the folk music of this country. I am sure you can appreciate the level of love-labour that goes into these kinds of things, it can take years to develop a regular crowd and atmosphere. Many landlords find that excessive levels of regulation, a deterrent to allowing people to play.

The musical community that I represent is fragile and marginalised in the media and in terms of funding, as it is. Advertised folk clubs maybe – they may charge a small fee on the door but I have never seen one run for profit. And I do not see them presenting a danger or an inconvenience to local residents or anyone.

Regular events, such as the Sheffield pubs carol singing tradition, which has been alive since the days of the old church bans, and the Whitsun and May Days celebrations deserve all of the support that the Government can give them. Not lumping them in with amplified rock nights whilst ignoring loud TV pubs. It simply does not provide these essential pastimes with a level playing field – and worse – in effect this picks off the weak, leaving commercial concerns unmolested.

In the lasts two years, sessions and folk clubs have been raided by plain-clothes police officers and closed with the threat of prosecution from their local councils. This is our precedent – this is what we are worried about. Issuing guidelines is NOT enough because the wording of the Bill is very clear. They will close us down.

MH: >Snip< How can you see sessions best protected under the terms of the Bill?

Dr Kim Howells: Thanks for giving me the opportunity Mike, because I must have signed a thousand letters I would think, mainly coming in from MPs but from very very worried people out there, that they're going to see their venues disappear and it is something I feel very strongly about, because I want them to thrive and proliferate not disappear.

Now the Bill as it stands- what we want to do in it is this. We say look when a licensee, and remember its not only pubs its all sorts of things restaurants, cinemas anywhere that sells alcohol, right. When somebody applies for a Premises Licence – that is a licence to sell alcohol, they won't any longer go along to the magistrates court, they will go along to the Licensing Committee of the local authority, they are going to be the new alcohol licensing authority. And they will go along there and say I would like a licence to sell alcohol, at such and such a building, and I also want to put on some entertainment.

At the moment, if you do that, and you have to pay a very large amount of money very often, in order to be allowed an entertainment. Now we are doing away with that. By ticking a box, or writing a few lines out on a bit of paper, you would say, I would like to have entertainment and this is roughly what I want to put on.

And it can vary of course between the situation as it is at the moment where you are allowed two musicians but not more. Or you might say I want a silver band to play in there, the local authority as the licensing authority, unless they have got some very serious objection, must grant you the right to do that. They cannot charge you a penny more than it costs for the licence to sell alcohol. So we are doing away with that separate entertainment licence, and what I think what that does it make it much easier for venues to stage music. It makes it much cheaper and puts everybody on the same even keel and it does away with a system which everybody has told us is crazy, and that is the 'two-in-a-bar-rule'.