There has, remarkably, been little coverage of this – locally let alone nationally. Live music was effectively banned in NI yesterday. In a licensed premises, it is no longer permitted to have: (a) dancing; (b) the provision of music, whether live or recorded, for dancing; or (c) live music.
Unless you are running live music in a church hall, that’s it – you’re finished. Ironically, this is more or less opposite to the Oliver Cromwell regime in the 1640s – the puritans banning music in churches but actually doing a lot to foster live opera (albeit, maybe not in the local boozer).
I started Scott’s Jazz Club in East Belfast this month with three pals – jazz piano pro Scott Flanigan, events organisation pro Karen Smyth and sound/lighting/film pro Cormac O’Kane – in the premises of a licensed Working Men’s Club That WM club benefited from table-service bar sales; tickets included food purchased by arrangement from a neighbouring restaurant, which obviously benefited that restaurant; and the ticket funds provided fees for a couple of sound/lighting guys plus both pay and, crucially, a now painfully rare public performance platform for professional players (bassist and drummer on week one, same bassist different drummer, and trumpeter on week two).
In short, a carefully managed environment was supporting the economy, the arts and enhancing the wellbeing of all concerned – players, organisers, punters
There is surely medical wisdom in banning dancing or gigs where people are inclined to jump around, but there is no difference between X people seated in a restaurant or ‘wet bar’ (as allowed in NI) and X people listening to a piano trio.
This legislation is a miss-step – a blanket being used to starve both weeds and flowers from sunlight, indiscriminately.
The DUP is notoriously unsympathetic / not understanding of the arts in general, but in this case I don’t think there is any party political aspect – I think both the DUP and Sinn Fein (i.e. the NI Executive) have, with good intentions, applied a brush that is far too broad to a problem. I hope they take feedback from people in the arts soon and amend this butterfly/wheel regulation.
If and when they do, Scott’s Jazz Club will have five more events up on Ticketsource within half an hour. They were ready to go on Friday and pulled within minutes of going on sale when we heard the news.