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Barcelona protects small live music venues

The underground live music scene in Barcelona will receive protection from the council under the new “live culture spaces” category

By Anna Grace on 13 Feb 2019

Barcelona protects small venues

Modern flamenco singer Rosalía

image © Diario de Madrid

The Barcelona City Council has announced the creation of the Espais de cultura viva (live culture spaces) venue classification to protect its small live music venues, allowing flexible capacity limits and relaxing sound restrictions.

The council has finalised work on the category, which applies to spaces with a capacity of up to 150 people that host a minimum of 40 live music events or other live performances a year.

The category, which does not exist in other Spanish cities, allows venues to have a flexible capacity limit. Low-capacity venues with a cafe or bar license will be able to let in a greater number of people for live events, without fear of receiving fines.

A further modification sees the creation of a “semi-acoustic music” category. Previously, small venues could only programme acoustic music events. Concerts involving electronic instruments required soundproofing equipment, unaffordable for many venues even with a state subsidy.

The new category will allow for electronic instruments to play up to a volume of 95 decibels, given that outside noise does not exceed 45 decibels.

“This kind of recognition of cultural spaces is a key tool for strengthening the scene from the bottom up”

Venues that qualify for the Espais de cultura viva category and are in special saturation zones, will have a curfew of 11 pm.

Daniel Granados, analyst at the Barcelona institute of culture, tells El Periódico that this kind of “recognition of cultural spaces” is a key tool for “strengthening the scene from the bottom up.”

“Rosalía [a famous Catalan singer] would not be where she is today if she had not performed in small venues that were illegal up until now.”

Plans for the new regulations began three years ago. The law will be implemented in two months’ time, granted political parties do not oppose the proposal.

The Association of Catalan Concert Halls (ASACC) and the Association of Women in the Music Industry (MIM), along with other local industry organisations and venues, have celebrated the initiative and urge municipal groups to vote in favour of the measure.


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