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UK industry calls for licensing overhaul

Live Nation's Paul Latham, MVT's Mark Davyd and the MU's Alex Mann, who gave evidence in parliament this morning, want venues acknowledged "as spaces vital to … the UK"

By Jon Chapple on 06 Dec 2016

Mark Davyd, Paul Latham, Alex Mann, UK parliament, Licensing Act 2003 evidence session

Davyd, Latham and Mann in parliament

image © Music Venue Trust

British peer Timothy Clement-Jones will tomorrow propose an amendment to the Licensing Act 2013 recognising the role music venues play in the cultural life in the UK.

Lord Clement-Jones will submit the amendment, which highlights venues’ “provision of social or cultural activities”, to the House of Lords as part of a debate on the Policing and Crime Bill. The Lords, the upper house of the British Parliament, is currently conducting a year-long investigation into the effectiveness of the much-criticised Licensing Act 2003, which regulates the UK’s music venues.

British live industry figures appeared in parliament this morning to give evidence to the Licensing Act 2003 Committee. In a joint statement, Paul Latham, COO of Live Nation and chairman of the UK Live Music Group; Alex Mann, live music official of the Musicians’ Union; and Mark Davyd, chief executive of Music Venue Trust, this afternoon called for an overhaul of the act to “make it easier to stage events and help the industry thrive”.

If passed, Lord Clement-Jones’s amendment would, says industry umbrella group UK Music, “pave the way for this new provision”.

“Licensing is just one of many areas of the legal framework around grassroots music venues that is contributing to their rapid decline”

“As leading venue operators across the UK, we strive to bring a best-in-class operation to all our venues, and that includes mutual learnings throughout our venue portfolio,” says Latham. “At all times we try to work progressively with the respective local authorities to share our learnings. Unfortunately not all local authorities are like-minded, and their interpretations of the Licensing Act are not always helpful, or consistent, which is frustrating and creates obstacles for venue operators at all levels.”

Davyd adds: “Licensing is just one of many areas of the legal framework around grassroots music venues that is contributing to their rapid decline. In the case of licensing, Music Venue Trust is not asking that a special case be made for grassroots venues. Rather, we believe a further push to support the intent of the Licensing Act 2003 – and the subsequent Live Music Act 2012 – is required, so these culturally and socially important spaces achieve parity in the manner in which the licensing framework handles and supports them.

“We want to see grassroots music venues acknowledged and respected alongside theatres and arts centres as spaces that are vital to the health, wealth and happiness of the UK.”

British live music was worth £904 million in 2015 – down from £924m in 2014 owing to a drop in revenue from grassroots venues.


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