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Sunday, February 12, 2012

A sign of things to come?

The cultural sector in Glasgow are revolting, some of them are also up in arms about the draconian interpretation by Glasgow City Council of the new 'Public Entertainment Licence law' as enacted by Scottish Government under the auspices of the scarily titled Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act.

As of 1st April 2012, Glasgow City Council will be changing their 'Entertainments' License, to include all free events, including Exhibitions. After this date, all proposed public exhibitions, regardless of scale, will need to submit a tedious application along with a hefty fee, 6 weeks prior to the date, as well as public notification, 6 sets of lay out plans, and will involve consultation with Strathclyde police, Strathclyde Fire Brigade, Building Control, Environmental Health, local councillors, local community councils, and local area management committees.

Phil Millar in the Herald had a bash at explaining it yesterday, click on link for his piece. The upshot is that Glasgow City Council are suggesting that if you put on an exhibition in your living room, launch a book in your garden shed or school hall, book a band to play in your church hall -- whatever, you'll need a license to conform with regulations, even if the event is free and played in front of a handful of people. Prices for the license range from £124 -£7500 depending on size of venue and crowd.

Naturally there's an on-line petition, which has seen a remarkable take up of 3800 signatures in just a couple of days. Do have a read at it and if persuaded please sign it.

Aberdeen city council have suggested that as they view the arts as an integral part of their ongoing regeneration they will waive 75% of any license fee which may fall under the new regulations. 

As those coves at The Stove discovered to their cost D&G have a set number of licenses you need to pay if you're planning on doing something in the public realm, be that serving food, pitching a stall or err operating a scissor lift. It doesn't matter if your event is free, them licenses need a-paying... With that in mind, could any of our councillors, MSPs or councillor officers who pour so assiduously through the Commonty every week, contact the relevant council department and let our readers know how Dumfries and Galloway council plan to introduce this new law on April fools day? 

Will they simply do as Glasgow City Council has done, blame the Scottish Government and charge the full whack or interpret the law with a bit of common sense and discretion and reduce the fee by 75% as Aberdeen? Or perhaps Dumfries and Galloway council can show some revolutionary zeal, as it used to be famous for, stand up for the creative community and be the first in Scotland to waive the fee and tell the Holyrood bureaucrats to take a hike?

Please feel free to comment below.


Excellent news from our intrepid Arts councillor Jane Maitland.

Hello dear Commonty.  In an effort to be helpful, I forward a link to the January Policy Committee papers, which gives the latest information on what is charged for non liquor licences in the region.  I do not believe there is any intention to change any other licences, just like Joyce says below.  

Best wishes


Link here 

Posted by MMaC


  1. This is the response from the councils Licensing coordinator Joyce Edward to the concerns above.

    I refer to your email which you sent to your local Councillors. You enquiry has been forwarded to me for a response.

    I note that your enquiry relates to the amendment to the definition of “Places of Public Entertainment” which will come into effect on 1 April 2012 and will make licensable events which are open to the public free of charge.

    It is for each Council to decide whether to license places of public entertainment under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 and, if so, to agree which types of entertainment should be licensed.

    Our Council has agreed to license places of public entertainment but only for the following types of entertainment:-
    Ø Bungee Jumping/Catapulting
    Ø Circuses
    Ø Funfairs
    Ø Firework Displays
    Ø Outdoor Music Events
    Ø Indoor Music Events (depending on capacity of premises)
    Ø Sunbed/Tanning Centres.

    You will see that Art Exhibitions are not licensed as place of public entertainment within Dumfries and Galloway and I am unaware of any proposal or suggestion that our Council considers to extend their licensing of public entertainment to include Art Exhibitions.

  2. Now all that needs to be determined is what scale we are talking about for both outdoor and indoor music events 'depending on capacity of premises' covers a lot of ground. Particularly if Free and un-ticketed musical events will require a license.

    Many thanks to Councillor Maitland for asking the right questions.

  3. Thanks to everyone who has written in about this subject. In future please use the comments section, it's very easy and quite direct. We can't have visitors to the site believing that the good folk of D&G have nothing to say!

  4. From today's Herald.
    SCOTLAND'S leading arts body, Creative Scotland, has warned councils not to allow new licensing legislation to "undermine" the development of new artistic talent.

    The national funding body has issued a statement on the controversial Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act of 2010, which comes into force on April 1 and requires all exhibitions to pay for public entertainment licences.

    The act, and its implications for the licensing of small scale, temporary, free artistic or musical events, have caused uproar in the artistic community and led to nearly 9000 people signing a petition to scrap the new fees.

    Although concern over the changes to the law first aroused the attention of artists, galleries and performers in Glasgow, artists across the country are concerned over how councils will interpret the changes, particularly in Edinburgh, where the council said the act's impact is "being assessed".

    Creative Scotland's statement says it hopes all 32 local authorities in Scotland interpret the law in a way which does not damage creative endeavour.

    It said: "Creative Scotland accepts that the motivation behind the legislation is to ensure that large-scale free events are well-run and that audiences and participants are safe; irresponsible organisers often try to avoid the costs of things like stewarding which can put audiences at risk.

    "Our understanding of the legislation is that individual local authorities can choose which types of events need a licence and how those events are defined – naturally, we expect that councils will interpret the legislation to the benefit of their creative community."

    As revealed in The Herald this week, Glasgow City Council, known for its DIY, artist-led spaces and small-scale creative events, is moving to "get around" the new law by redefining what is covered by the legislation.

    Glasgow's Licensing and Regulatory Committee will consider a proposal at a meeting on February 23. At this stage, The Herald understands, the proposal is to clarify the meaning of "exhibitions" to exclude temporary, non-commercial exhibitions which are for "cultural purposes".

    Artists in Edinburgh are also concerned about the changes but the city council has yet to make a definitive statement on how the act will affect small-scale or temporary events.

    A spokeswoman for the City of Edinburgh Council said the effects of the legislation were still being assessed, and added: "We would advise anyone with concerns to contact our licensing service in the meantime."

  5. Hi Folks.
    Sure some of you are members of VAGA & will no doubt have been sent this email,but just incase you haven't, thought you might find it interesting.

    Kind Regards,


    Date: Thu, 16 Feb 2012 17:11:23 +0000
    Subject: Public Entertainment Licenses

    Dear colleagues

    I've been asked to find out more about the Public Entertainment License issue and while I've struggled to put together a comprehensive picture of what's happening - here's some info. drawn together for you in one place.

    Suzi Ross appears to be co-ordinating the Glasgow meeting and Kris Haddow is trying to pull together information from all local authorities. Follow information on twitter at #glasgowartlicence and #scrapartstax

    Creative Scotland put out a statement: Creative Scotland accepts that the motivation behind the legislation is to ensure that large-scale free events are well run and that audiences and participants are safe; irresponsible organisers often try to avoid the costs of things like stewarding which can put audiences at risk. Local authorities recognise the benefits, for residents and the local economy, that a thriving cultural community brings. Our understanding of the legislation is that individual local authorities can choose which types of events need a licence and how those events are defined – naturally, we expect that councils will interpret the legislation to the benefit of their creative community and would not undermine the healthy development of emerging talent and new audiences.

    And Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and MSP for Glasgow Southside said the new legislation "was in response to concerns that had been raised about the lack of control local licensing authorities had over large scale free-to-enter events such as raves. However, it is important to stress the new law does not mean local licensing authorities are required to insist on free-to-enter events having a Public Entertainment Licence. The discretion lies entirely with the local licensing authority – in this case Glasgow – to determine what types of events they license. As I understand it, there is nothing whatsoever in the law to prevent Glasgow from exempting all or certain categories of free-to-enter events from the requirement to have a public entertainment licence." She said she had asked for an urgent meeting the council's licensing department to discuss her "concerns".

    I hope you find it useful, or maybe even entertaining in parts. I tweeted earlier in the week I didn't know whether to laugh or cry over the issue, but some progress is being made … thanks to the many and varied voices raised primarily in Glasgow.



    Ben Spencer, Policy and Development, VAGA Scotland
    c/o 26 Queen Square Strathbungo Glasgow G41 2AZ (0141 423 9024 / 07917 665 325

    follow us on twitter:

    GLASGOW MEETING at the Art School: Saturday 18 February: 12noon - 3pm - the time seems to keep changing so check at:

    GLASGOW CITY COUNCIL's position appears to be changing with a commitment to clarify the definition of an 'exhibition':

    EDINBURGH CITY COUNCIL appears set to introduce the Public Entertainment Licence for premises used for exhibition from 1 April and monitor the situation for 6 months and report back to the Council..It recognises the fee structure may need to be re-examined.

    ABERDEEN CITY COUNCIL's Licensing Committee approved plans to reduce cost of public entertainment licence fees to charities by 75% -

    A Councillor in the SHETLAND ISLANDS is committed to bring forwarded a review of Civic Government Licensing to the Council in June

    I loved this piece by CULTURE SQUAWKis blog:

    And I think it's interesting to see how the visual arts sector is perceived from the outside: