Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Meeting to be held to campaign against licence changes for public events

By Katy McCloskey

Campaigners have rounded against changes to licensing laws which will see organisers of free public events and shows having to pay.

A meeting is to be held next weekend to campaign against new rules for public entertainment licences in Glasgow.

As of April 1, new laws set out in the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act of 2010 will mean that an entertainments license must be sought for any public shows, exhibitions and community events such as local festivals – even if the events are free.

Costs for the licence will range from £26 to £7,300, depending on the type of event and size of the crowd and the penalty for operating an event without a licence is £20,000 or six months in prison.

Activists across Glasgow have set up a petition against the changes and have dubbed it a tax on arts and entertainment. They say it will damage the foundations of Glasgow’s arts community – where pop up exhibitions and displays thrive in unusual venues.

Petition organiser Kris Haddow said: “Glasgow City Council must urgently review this and scrap the proposed fees, particularly those to be imposed on free events and on temporarily licensing small venues.”

Hundreds of people have taken to Facebook to condemn the changes, with comments such as “Absolutely ridiculous, counter productive, and plain idiotic. For a city trying to encourage the arts to put this kind of restriction in place is simply greedy and over complicated.”

Sinead Dunn, President of the Glasgow School of Art students' association organised the public meeting. She said: "This will have serious implications on Glasgow School of Art students. A subject we teach is art in the community and this change will have the effect of criminalising students for their work.

"Many of our students and recent graduates are doing what they do out of love for their work and not money. Stifling fees like this will close the art scene down.

"Many of our students often put displays on in disused shops and there has been no clarification over the official list of what's affected in the last couple of days."

Until now, a licence was only required for events with an admission charge and the arts community is worried that the time needed – six weeks - to apply for a licence could prevent artists from performing or displaying their work.

The changes come as the city prepares itself to host the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art.

Boxing events, judo and karate shows, circuses and discos alongside events in pool halls will also be affected, but gala days, fetes, events in church halls and school halls will be exempt.

The list of events or public activities which will be included in the changes was determined in the 1980s when the Civic Government Act was passed.

A spokesman for Glasgow City Council said: "This is not just an issue for Glasgow as the change to the law applies across the whole country.

"We were very clear in our submissions this change would lead to a wide range of free events that would require a public entertainment licence."

The public meeting will take place on February 18 at 1pm in the Glue Factory in Farnell Street.

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