Saturday, 18 February 2012

Scrap Arts Tax meeting number 1

My head is still buzzing after today's Scrap Arts Tax meeting which was held at Glasgow School of Art in the Mackintosh Lecture Theatre.

As expected, the lecture theatre was packed with individuals from a range of backgrounds, interests, ages and locations. It was great that some people from Edinburgh had travelled through, emphasising the notion that this is a national issue rather than purely a Glasgow issue.

The meeting began with a number of introductory speeches by prominent people in their respective fields e.g. Francis McKee, Sarah Lowndes, Peter McCaughey (for the Scottish Artists Union SAU), Councillor Frank Docherty and Steven McGowan (director of Licensing at Lindsays law firm).

Some key points were:

Policies need to be made in consultation with those who will be affected by the legislation

The SAU are:
- supporting the petition
- wanting Scotland-wide policies to be implemented rather than local authority policies
- enabling students to become associate SAU members if they meet certain criteria (had several exhibitions)

Why did we not know about this licence before Thursday?

There needs to be some representation from Glasgow School of Art

Steven McGowan mentioned the temporary event provision which is used in England. Artists inform the council of their plans for a one off event and it is presumed that the event will go ahead unless the council get in contact to raise any concerns they have

We broke off into working groups each of which discussed a different topic and then we met together to report back from the working groups.

Some points of importance that I took from today:

1. Thursday 23rd February at 9:30am there will be a Glasgow City Council Licensing Board meeting in the Burgh court discussing the PEL. Artists are encouraged to have a presence at this. The entrance is via John Street.

2. All artforms should work together. I was really pleased that the meeting was attended by all manner of creative beings. I believe that we should work together - currently we are fairly independent; different unions etc

3. Get audiences to support the protests - we need to raise public awareness about the issue and how it will effect them. Once they know that their weekly watercolour class will be affected by the licence, for example, I think they will be outraged by the licence

4. Establish a web presence that is non-facebook - not everyone has, or likes facebook. Need another way to disseminate information such as a website

5. Continue to contact councillors

6. We need to decide how disruptive we are going to be - is striking a good option? do we do more of the activities that will be affected?

7. A different name may be more appropriate for the group - Arts is too restrictive, it is not a tax, not restricted to Glasgow, could be used for more than the licencing issue

So, lots to consider and plenty of work still to do.

An email list was circulated and the debate will continue.

Next meeting is on Saturday 25th February at 11am at Kinning Park Complex, Glasgow

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