The Live Music Forum

Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Tuesday 16th January - Singing to help children navigate 'a tough century'

On BBC Radio 4 Today this morning Music Manifesto champion Marc Jaffrey commended the government for providing an extra £10m funding for singing in primary schools:

Asked by John Humphrys why this matters, Jaffrey said 'music is the lifeblood of our nation', that singing encourages children's creativity and will bring 'lifeskills they will need as they navigate what I suspect will be a tough century'. 

One essential lifeskill for children and their singing teachers in the 21st century will be, of course, an in depth understanding of the very tough entertainment licensing regime.

Teachers organising pupils' performances for families and friends, or private performances raising money for a good cause, will need to check that the performance space is appropriately licensed - or face potential criminal prosecution by their local authority. Maximum penalty: £20,000 fine and six months in prison. 

A bar over the road, by contrast, could pack customers in for a big screen sports event or MTV without having to bother with entertainment licensing. So why does entertainment licensing matter?

Having focused recently on controlling potential noise nuisance as the main rationale, the government yesterday resurrected public safety as a justification in the press release announcing a national register of licensed public spaces:

In fact public safety is more than adequately covered by existing safety law, as the exemption for big screen broadcasts suggests. No local authority to my knowledge has ever been able to specify a public safety risk at a performance of live music in a school or bar that is not already covered by separate legislation.

Hamish Birchall