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Live music licensing changes could hit fundraising concerts

Howard Lake | 15 January 2003 | News

Proposed changes to the licensing of live music in England and Wales could threaten all forms of live music including carol singing, fundraising concerts and even people singing a capella in your garden for a party.

The Licensing Bill proposes that a licence will be required for any place where public performance is undertaken. A performance will include any event where there is a charge or benefit. This could therefore range from an end of year school concert, carol singing at the supermarket, and a major international music festival. Churches will be included as venues that will need to acquire licences.

According to the Department for Culture’s Regulatory Impact Assessment, licence fees could range from £300 to £5,760 for an initial application, with an annual fee thereafter of between £50 and £250. A temporary licence for one-off events could cost as little as £250, but with a maximum of five such licences being granted per year to a venue. Clearly these fees could jeopardise many fundraising events.

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In case you were thinking that you could always ignore the licence because your primary school Christmas concert or sponsored singalong would pass unnoticed, be aware that penalties for breaking the law include a six month jail sentence or a £20,000 fine.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport estimates that over 177,000 premises will be affected by the legislation. The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) points out that a further 20,000 or so churches and places of worship will also be affected. The RSCM argues: “For the many thousands of churches that simply offer their building as a facility to the community, this will be unjust and crippling. It may put an end to a great deal of professional, amateur and community music-making and performance.”

A number of groups are encouraging people to raise these concerns with their MP and Rt Hon Tessa Jowell MP, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport.

Find further details of how to take action at the Royal School of Church Music.

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