On the 1st of April 2012 it will become necessary to have a Public Entertainment License for any kind of public art in Edinburgh. Even the smallest grassroots events being run for free will require a license, which must be applied for six weeks in advance.
(More information here: http://www.change.org/petitions/scottish-councils-scrap-public-entertainment-licence-fees)
This means no immediate, responsive art and certainly nothing spontaneous. This means license fees which may run as high as £600. This means health and safety checks involving numerous council departments. That’s assuming that you have time to do the extra paperwork in the first place, along with creating and publicising your event.
Glasgow City Council has scrapped the introduction of the License for free events (for now, at any rate). Dumfries and Galloway has limited it to events such as bungee jumping, circuses and sunbeds. At a public meeting at Out of the Blue, councillor Rob Munn suggested that Edinburgh Council will defer the introduction of the fee for six months, but we’ll still have to fill in the forms as of 1.4.12. Because of course, that doesn’t suggest that the fees will simply be applied at a later date in any way, and there’s nothing remotely troubling about the fact that this puts an ideal mechanism for discreet censorship in place.
We say NO. It was suggested at the same meeting that on 1.4.12 we Edinburgh artists should stage as many unlicensed events as we can. Anything at all. As long as it’s art. As long as it’s entertainment. As long as it’s open to the public and free of charge. Find a location and do your thing. Publicise it or don’t. Show off your pictures, burst into song, wax poetical, make a scene, find an audience! Just don’t apply for a license.