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Vancouver City Council addresses Music Licencing problems
Vancouver Sun – Friday 1st May
City considers cutting barriers standing in way of arts businesses !!!
Please give this issue your support on Tuesday by showing up at the Council meeting and/or emailing the contacts provided below. This IS a serious milestone in the Vancouver Live Music industry. Vancouver may be entering the 21st Century!
The city will take a first step next week toward lowering the barriers faced by artists and small venue operators with an eye toward creating more performance spaces in the city.
Under the city's bylaws, changing the use of a building to open a gallery, an eatery or a boite triggers a whole mess of required upgrades to meet fire and seismic codes.
Add to that a punishing property tax regime and layers of licensing rules, and creating a profitable performance venue is almost insurmountably difficult
"I have one space in Vancouver with a rent of $700 a month and a property tax bill of $1,500 a month," said Vancouver entrepreneur David Duprey, who operates several buildings with gallery and artist space.
The average income for a working artist in Canada is less than $25,000.
A seismic upgrade that Duprey had been considered to revitalize the former home of Save-On-Meats would have run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The math is more than challenging and it's one of the reasons that so many buildings in the Downtown Eastside have been boarded up for years, he said.
Duprey operates several buildings and a restaurant, mainly in ground-level storefronts with artist studios occupying the remaining space in the building.
Parties and performances help draw customers, but arcane rules often prevent owners and operators from staging events.
On Tuesday, Coun. Heather Deal will bring a motion to council, proposing the creation of a working group to advise council on various ways to lower the bureaucratic and taxation barriers and to change the liquor bylaws and special occasion licences, which can often be the difference between setting up a profitable new venueor putting some more plywood on the windows.
Obviously there are base levels of safety that have to be maintained, Deal said.
"But we have rules now that don't allow more than two people to perform at cafe-galleries or restaurants and we have to break down those barriers and stop treating these spaces like they are all such different things," said Deal.
The city is in year one of a 10-year plan to develop a more vibrant culture industry in Vancouver and job one is making sure artists and performers have studio and performance space.
A two-day workshop that was held in March was the first step toward arming the culture community with the tools needed to navigate the complexities of project development and the bureaucracy.
"It's incredibly difficult to go through the process with the city and most artists just won't go through it," Duprey said.
"If you have a 30- or 40-year-old retail space that people are working in right now and you want to change the usage to say a gallery, it suddenly means you have to bring everything up to 2009 standards."
"Heather is really on to something here," he said.
"If we can lower those barriers, it will really make a difference in neighbourhoods like the Downtown Eastside, where we have a lot of boarded-up buildings."
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Email the following people who are politically fundamental to coordinating and effecting this much needed change to the Vancouver music scene.
Include a Vancouver address and telephone number.
Dana.Bertrand@vancouver.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Dana Bertrand is the Coordinator of Citizen Enquiries - Mayor's Office.
Maria Dobrinskaya is the Executive Assistant to Mayor Gregor Robertson
Heather Deal - Vancouver Councilor for the Arts
Sample letter to cut and paste.
Thank you for addressing the problems besetting the Arts Businesses in Vancouver. Here are some of the issues I would like to see addressed
BYELAW AND PROVINCIAL CHANGES REQUIRED
1. Extend restaurant opening hours to 2 or 3 am or 4am. Just like a real city. Locate music venues in industrial areas even.
2. Do not harass music venues when malicious reports about noise are repeatedly reported by the same person.
3. Stop police responding to malicious 911 calls about noise.
4. Do not entertain complaints by apartment owners who knowingly rent or buy accommodation in the vicinity of an established Class 1 or Class 2 licensed venue.
5. Do not entertain noise complaints about venues with acoustic music or with an amplified acoustic/standup Bass. It is simply NOT POSSIBLE for an acoustic/standup Bass to exceed 70dB
6. Do not fine musicians or the establishments they are playing in when said musicians have a beverage on the stage with them. Vocalists need to have their throats moist and nerves can dry them out. It is all the more ludicrous that Legislation permits up to 150 people to be imbibing not 6 feet away. I've never seen the Orpheum fined.
7. Facilitate the granting of ALL permits and release the constraints upon the owners of said licenses. Why does The Commodore have a Theater License anyway? It has never shown a film. Why doesn't it need a dancing licence?
8. There are 50 + Dance Studios in the Lower Mainland and NOWHERE for the students to dance to live music.
9. Remove the 70dB maximum for live music. It is absurd that this regulation exists when there is NO NOISE LIMIT for recorded music.
10. Annul the bizarre law which states that only 2 musicians may appear on the stand at the same time. Most music consists of THREE components, not TWO. Do the math!
11. BC laws prevented High School Music Students from seeing Oscar Peterson back in the 80's, even when accompanied by their parents. These same laws would prevent them seeing him perform today.
12. Do not threaten license holders with removal of their license and thus their family's livelihood. Not even drunk drivers are penalized with losing their livelihood.
ABOVE ALL- PLEASE WORK WITH PREMIER CAMPBELL
THE LIQUOR BOARD CAUSES AS MANY PROBLEMS AS THE CITY.
Go to City Hall this Tuesday. 7pm.
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