The Live Music Forum


Hamish Birchall Bulletin


Thursday 14th May 2009 - Culture Committee backs small gigs exemption

The Culture, Media and Sport Committee of 11 MPs, including six Labour, has recommended entertainment licensing exemptions for venues up to 200 capacity and for unamplified live music by one or two performers.

The Committee's conclusions add considerable weight to the calls from live music campaigners, the Musicians' Union and the former Live Music Forum, for a small gigs exemption.

Launching the Committee's Licensing Act 2003 inquiry report in Parliament yesterday, chairman John Whittingdale MP commented:

'We were also particularly concerned to hear of the way the Act may be hampering live music performances especially by young musicians, who often get their first break though performing live at small venues such as pubs. Our Report calls on the Government to relax restrictions in this area, which in some cases are unnecessarily draconian, and in others simply absurd.' (See link below for a copy of the report).

The press launch, in a room off Westminster Hall, included a live performance of 'Teenage Kicks' by Feargal Sharkey, boss of UK Music, and Andy Gill of Gang of Four fame. Unlike most other premises in England and Wales, the Houses of Parliament and buildings on the Parliamentary estate are exempt from alcohol and entertainment licensing regulation.

In fact this was Sharkey's second public rendition this week of the Undertones hit. Last Monday, 11 May, he was joined in an 'impromptu' version by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham at the Knotty Ash Youth and Community Centre in Liverpool, a venue once used by the Beatles.

The occasion was the launch of the government's part-funding of rehearsal venues, many of which also have spaces dedicated to live performance, as is the case at this community centre owned by Liverpool council. And, as reported in the Liverpool Echo, the high profile PR event was accompanied by a performance from unsigned local band 'The Ora':

The gig was attended not only by invited press, but also by venue staff, civil servants, and other spectators. So is the venue appropriately licensed for performances of live music?

Liverpool council confirmed yesterday that the venue does not hold a premises licence, and no-one applied for a Temporary Event Notice.

It looks like an offence was committed - but the council is unlikely to prosecute itself.

Link to the Culture Media & Sport Committee Licensing Act 2003 report (PDF file 2.42Mb, see pp27-32):

Links to press coverage of the Culture Committee findings:


Hamish Birchall