Mudcat Café message #707430 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #47285   Message #707430
Posted By: The Shambles
09-May-02 - 12:07 PM
Thread Name: Killed by the PEL system
Subject: RE: Killed by the PEL system
It's not only folk and jazz gigs that get it in the neck from local authorities.

On Wednesday 1st August 2001, a performance by the Con Tempo string quartet, due to take place at Waterstones bookshop in Hampstead, was prevented at the last minute by Camden council - because the venue did not hold a public entertainment licence (PEL). Technically even one musician's public performance is illegal in any premises (other than pubs and on-licensed venues where up to two performers are allowed without a PEL).

Camden's press office confirmed yesterday that its licensing department intercepted a promotional flyer from Waterstones on 26 July. Waterstones' Hampstead manager, Francis Cleverdon, had only days to warn pre-booked ticket holders by phone that the live music might not take place. Even the quartet itself was unsure whether or not the performance would be allowed. They turned up on the night in full concert dress, instruments in hand. Tickets for the event had sold out a week before. But as 100 guests, including VIPs, took their places, the cancellation was confirmed. A CD recording of the Amadeus quartet was played instead.

The live music was to follow a reading from 'Married to the Amadeus: Life with a string quartet' by Muriel Nissel, wife of Professor Siegmund Nissel, one of the founder members of the legendary Amadeus quartet. Professor Nissel himself also gave a talk. The members of the Con Tempo quartet, originally from Bucharest, are currently in their third year as Foundation Chamber Music Fellows at the Royal Academy of Music. Already reckoned as among the best string quartets in the world, Con Tempo has won numerous international prizes, performed for Prince Charles and the Pope, and will record a CD and various radio broadcasts later this year.

Camden's interference does not sit well with recent public statements about its PEL enforcement policy. A letter published on 15 June by the Hampstead and Highgate Express, sought to 'correct any misleading impressions by recent press coverage' about Camden's interpretation of the 'two-in-a-bar rule' in pubs and restaurants. It also made broader claims.

'I can assure your readers that the Council wishes to encourage aspiring young musicians rather than limit their opportunities,' wrote Robert Scourfield, Assistant Director of Environment and Consumer Protection. 'Camden clearly has a responsibility to enforce the existing law and aims to do so in a sensible and properly targeted manner. Our officers have many responsibilities and do not spend their time looking for unlicensed entertainment... The idea that the Council is over-zealous in its enforcement is based on the experience of two or three promoters in a handful of the many pubs and clubs in Camden which organise entertainment without any problems.'