The Live Music Forum
Hamish Birchall Bulletin
Thursday 26th August 2010 - Licensing Act - live music harm revealed
Research by the Live Music Forum (www.livemusicforum.co.uk) has revealed that the previous Government inflated the number of live music licences by a massive 60%, and the 2003 Licensing Act resulted in a 74% decrease in the number of licensed premises able to host small-scale performances of live music.
Government answers to questions tabled by Lord Colwyn in July (see below) have confirmed that 145,500 licensed premises do not have authorisation for 'facilities for making music'. Even if a premises is authorised for performances of live music, without the additional permission for facilities, actual performances are likely to be illegal.
John King, musician and member of the Welwyn Live Music Forum, said: "The damage to live music caused by the Licensing Act was carefully covered up by the last Government. DCMS have admitted that there are now only 52,400 premises with live music authorisation. Even this number is hopelessly optimistic as it includes schools, colleges, retirement homes, hospitals, shops, public spaces and closed premises, and is also distorted by a definition of a live music event which included pretty much anything from a pack of carol singing Brownies to a clown playing a comedy trumpet.
"Only 26% of licensed premises can now stage any form of live music, but many of these face further restrictions on the frequency or regularity of performance, the number of performers, bans on amplification, or even the genres of music allowed to be performed. But even that is not the whole truth; a significant proportion of premises licensed for live music don't actually put on any gigs. In 2007 DCMS reported that 43% of premises with music licences have never staged live music and have no plans to do so."
Former Licensing Minister Gerry Sutcliffe announced last year that 83,600 premises were licensed for live music and that claims that the Licensing Act had damaged the live music sector were a 'myth'. Then DCMS Secretary of State Ben Bradshaw stated in Parliament that there had been 'significant growth in the amount of live music'.
With the true extent of the damage finally clear, the Live Music Forum calls on the Coalition Government to move swiftly to implement an entertainment licence exemption so that performances of live music can take place in licensed premises and elsewhere as a normal activity, regulated by existing legislation for public safety and nuisance. In other words, the same treatment accorded to big screen sport by the last government.
Full text of Lord Colwyn's questions and government replies
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): On 31 March 2009 there were 197,900 premises licences in force and 17,300 club premises certificates in England and Wales. The estimated total premises licences without authorisation for facilities for making music was 145,500, and the total club premises certificates without authorisation for facilities for making music was 11,500 as at 31 March 2009. The estimated total premises licences without facilities for entertainment similar to making music or dancing was 164,500, and the total club premises certificates without facilities for entertainment similar to making music or dancing was 13,500 as at 31 March 2009. Multiple activities can apply to a particular premises.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what changes they are making to the methods of data collection for the Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing Statistical Bulletin to ensure that future bulletins comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.[ HL1780]
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Strathclyde): The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's official statistics already comply with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics so no methodological changes are needed for the Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment bulletin. The UK Statistics Authority has, however, asked us to provide clarification on how to interpret a specific data item on live music licences. We will do this.