Mudcat Café message #833358 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #53667   Message #833358
Posted By: The Shambles
23-Nov-02 - 09:01 AM
Thread Name: PELs UK Music needs your HELP
Subject: RE: PELs UK Music needs your HELP
The Times
November 23, 2002

Bill 'will damage music in churches'
By Richard Ford, Home Correspondent


THOUSANDS of parish churches and other places of worship will have to pay for licences for concerts to be held on their premises under a government move which threatens to undermine their role in local communities.

Church leaders are concerned that councils may insist that their premises adopt fire and safety measures as a condition of granting the licence. They fear that the cost of getting a licence to allow concerts in churches and other places of worship will lead to the decline of local music groups.

The move will hit festivals in cathedrals such as Worcester and Lichfield, as well as the huge number of concerts featuring music from Handel's Messiah to chamber works that are held in rural and urban parish churches and other places of worship.

The Right Reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Wakefield, said that the issue was being discussed by the Archbishop's Council in preparation for the Bill's second reading. He said: "If the regulation is too stringent then parish churches will be deterred from hosting events." It was strange that the Government was imposing a licensing condition on churches while also urging that they be used for community purposes, he said.

Under the proposal to achieve licensing consistency throughout England and Wales all churches and places of worship will need an entertainment licence for concerts. At the moment the rule applies only in Greater London.
It would apply to 15,500 Church of England churches and premises of other faiths. Fees for the licences have not been published but at present entertainment fees for other premises vary from 1,000 for an event attended by 1,000 people in Kettering to 424 for a medium-sized event in Newcastle upon Tyne. The London Borough of Camden charged 102 for a licence for an event attended by 100 people.

The move will particularly affect cathedrals, many of which host music festivals attended by thousands of people. It will hit the Three Choirs Festival which takes place at Gloucester, Hereford and Worcester Cathedrals, the annual Lichfield Festival, and regular concerts at York Minster.

The Ven John Barton, Archdeacon of Aston, said that while he understood the wish for consistency and the fear that anyone who was not in line might cause the authorities to be sued, the proposed regulation went too far. "I am afraid it is one signal among many moves where little parish churches doing their best to keep alive fear slow strangulation", Mr Barton said.

He added that he was most concerned about the effects the proposal would have on the role of music in many local communities. "If a local music group asks to give a concert in their parish church and the church has to apply for a licence there will be a temptation to say 'I am awfully sorry we cannot get involved in that'", Mr Barton said.
Hamish Birchall, of the Musicians' Union, said there was no justification for requiring churches to have licences for music concerts.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport, which is piloting the Licensing Bill through Parliament, said that churches and places of worship did not need a licence for entertainment being used for the purposes of a religious meeting or service. "Where a church, other place of worship or meeting hall stages a secular concert, in competition with other concert halls, they must obtain a licence."
The department says that the Bill will reduce "red tape" for industry though local churches will clearly have to cope with more, having to get an entertainment licence for the first time.