As regular followers will know, the Red Road Underground Exhibition was made possible largely through very generous donations from friends and supporters, but also because spaces such as the New Glasgow Society came virtually free (we are giving a donation to the NGS for all their support and help, but the space itself, was free). Like many artists in Glasgow Chris Leslie and I are able to put on shows for very little money, and with no entrance fee, because the city has bred a cooperative, no-low budget art scene. It’s proved fruitful, given how the arts are booming. And in the austerities of a recession, free art and music is an important compensation for artists and audiences alike.
The new Glasgow City Council Entertainment licensing rules, which come into force on 1st April, are an interpretation by GCC of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act of 2010. It could mean that small exhibitions such as ours would need a license costing anywhere between £124 to £7,500. Worse, the level of bureaucracy, and time needed to go through all of the different stages of securing the license would in turn, incur additional expenses, potentially fatal errors and huge delays. What has been a dynamic cultural scene (that GCC is frequently very happy to reap kudos for, mark you) could grind to a halt overnight. And that’s not to mention the effect on community groups, small fairs and the like.
The Scottish Government guidelines make it clear that the extent to which the legislation is implemented is at the council’s discretion. GCC’s justified war against dodgy tanning salons and the gangsters who own them has led, apparently, to the universal application of the licence. It’s akin to one of those cartoons where a character tries to kill a pesky fly by blowing up the entire village.
Some reading for you:
A Herald Article in which Phil Miller (no relation) shakes his head in disbelief…
…and Culture Squawk’s inimitable, er, squawk on the matter…
The GOOD NEWS is that far from being all fey and ineffectual, us arty types in the city have mobilised. At least 1,000 artists and musicians have signed up on the Facebook group to attend the public meeting this Saturday (I’m going to try and pop in before our artists talks at RRU that day), press has already been scathing and MPs/MSPs/Councillors will have had a fair raft of letters the last few days. There is a also a petition I hope you will consider signing.
Let’s try and nip this latest exercise of pointless bureaucracy in the bud!