Concern over Public Entertainment Licence in Glasgow

14 February 2012


The growing concern over changes to the law that will require venues across Glasgow to obtain a Public Entertainment Licence has led to a campaign for Glasgow City Council to scrap the proposals. Central to the debate is the city’s visual arts community, whose gallery spaces which are all open to the public free of charge, will now have to be licenced at some expense. The changes come into force on the 1st of April this year.

The issue stems from changes to the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Section 176 of that Act, which refers to the Licensing of Public Entertainment, amends section 41 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, which governs Public Entertainment licensing. Crucially, the 1982 Act applied to spaces that charged an entrance fee. The new provisions remove this, meaning that all public venues that are free of charge – typically including art venues – are caught by the new provision. It is within the discretion of the Local Authority to decide whether to impose the need for the licences for certain premises. The City Council has specified a list of premises that will require one. This includes ‘exhibitions’. Other venues that will require to be licenced include snooker halls, theatres, ice rinks and fairgrounds. Venues that are already licenced under the Licensing (Scotland) Act 2005, or require specific licenses for their particular activity such as cinemas, are exempt. The penalties for not complying with the new regime are given in section 7 of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982; it is a criminal offence to carry out an activity without the relevant Licence. The maximum penalty is a fine of £20,000, six months imprisonment or both.
Whilst larger organisations may be able to shoulder the cost and administrative burden of applying for the new licence (which could cost between a few hundred up to thousands of pounds depending of the size of venue), smaller artist run venues for which Glasgow is renowned could be facing closure in the long term unless a solution is found to exempt them, or provide assistance towards complying with the law.
The new rules are particularly badly timed as the acclaimed biennale Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art launches on the 20th of April. The festival has won an international reputation for promoting the grass-roots artistic community who stage exhibitions in a variety of spaces across the city, both privately owned, and also spaces that the Council itself has supported use of. At a time when the visual art sector in the City is being held up as a cultural and economic success story, and is actively supported by the Council, the decision to introduce these licenses seems at odds with promoting Glasgow as a cultural destination. To this end, it has been reported that the Council have been aware of the conflict and will seek to find a temporary solution by redefining ‘exhibition’ so venues like these will not be caught by the rules. Whilst this may offer a short term solution in Glasgow, other local authorities will have to draft their own guidelines and, longer term there may need to be a more definite solution to the problem.


Bookmark and Share



blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Information

External Links