Page last updated at 10:19 GMT, Friday, 23 October 2009 11:19 UK

Grassroots music 'to get boost'

Dublin Castle pub, north London
The current licensing law came into effect in 2005

Live music laws could be relaxed to make it easier to stage small gigs in pubs, wine bars and clubs.

Venues holding fewer than 100 people will be able to stage concerts without a licence under government plans. All gig venues currently need a licence.

The move has been welcomed by some campaigners who say the current regulations stifle grassroots music.

But others, who have been calling for 200-capacity events to be exempt, say it does not go far enough.

Licensing minister Gerry Sutcliffe said: "Many people who are passionate about live music are sincere in their view that some small events are being deterred or restricted because of unnecessary regulation."

But he acknowledged there may be potential public order issues.

The government will seek views from fans, musicians and venues on the changes before confirming the changes.

'Red tape'

Chris Hodgkins, director of Jazz Services, which supports musicians and promoters, said the current regulations had resulted in too much red tape.

"Most music - folk, jazz, indie music - playing in small venues, there's never any trouble," he said. "The Licensing Act that came in militated against live music and against musicians seeking work.

"Relaxing this whole thing, so venues of up to 100 people can have live music, will make it a lot easier for musicians and small-scale promoters to put music on."

However, performers' union Equity is calling for venues holding up to 200 people to be free of licensing requirements.

"We welcome the government's change of position, because up until now they've refused to make any concessions," said Stephen Spence, Equity's assistant general secretary of live performance.

"Now they're saying they might exclude venues with a capacity up to 100, but this isn't a haggling match.

"If the government can say yes to 100-seat venues, they can say yes to 200-seat venues, and that would solve a great many of the problems with this legislation."

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