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Government to cut back on red tape for community entertainment

Community groups are to be set free from red tape, as the Government has announced plans to cut unnecessary licensing regulations around neighbourhood events.  The change will mean that community venues – including community centres, schools, village halls and hospitals – will be exempt from licensing restrictions. They will be free to put on cultural events like dance displays and concerts without having to apply to the local council for a licence.

 Under current rules, eligible organisers either have to apply for a Temporary Event Notice at least 10 days prior to putting on every event, or apply for an entertainment licence, that on average costs well over £200 for new applications.

 It is not just community facilities that are set to benefit, as local businesses and cultural organisations no longer have to fill in reams of paperwork and go through a costly process just to host a live music band or put on a play. It’s anticipated that the move will see thousands of extra events take place across the country.

 The change to the 2003 Licensing Act has been brought about following a public consultation, and is part of the Government’s ‘red tape challenge’, aimed at removing unnecessary bureaucracy from civil society organisations, charities and businesses.

 Minister for Sport and Tourism, Hugh Robertson said “Local events have become unnecessarily bureaucratic and complicated to organise. Deregulating them will encourage people and organisations to lay on more events and bring local people together.”

 The measures to deregulate plays, dance and indoor sport will be put to Parliament in the next few weeks, with the intention of bringing the measures into effect in England and Wales by April 2013.  The remaining legislative measures, including live and recorded music and entertainment activities at community venues will be introduced to Parliament as soon as possible. DCMS will also consult on measures that examine community film screenings later this year.

 Robin Simpson, Chief Executive of Voluntary Arts said “Performances by amateur groups form a significant proportion of the cultural life of the country. In some communities amateur shows are the only available live performances. For some time amateur arts groups have struggled with the complexities, confusions and costs of entertainment licensing which has often seemed excessive when applied to small-scale, non-profit, community activities. Voluntary Arts welcomes, therefore, the deregulation announced by the Government this week and hopes this will encourage more amateur performances and ease the load on the organisers of amateur groups.”

Read more on the DCMS website at: http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/9651.aspx.