UPDATE: Chicago Sun Times:
Following a nearly unprecedented outpouring of concern from the Chicago music community and a meeting with activists and some of the top concert promoters and venue owners in Chicago, Ald. Eugene Schulter, chairman of the City Council License Committee, decided on Tuesday that he will not present the so-called “event promoter’s ordinance” to the full council for a vote on Wednesday—and that the committee will go back to work on fine-tuning the law.
Imagine a Chicago with no Metro or Double Door or Schuba’s. Imagine a Chicago with no Royal George or Bailiwick or Athenaeum. Imagine a Chicago where local music is only heard in the suburbs and theater is limited to Wicked and Jersey Boys.
Scary thoughts. But if the City of Chicago’s City Council doesn’t hear your voice by Wednesday, May 14, they can become reality.
On that date the council will vote to approve an ordinance that has the power to stifle creativity in Chicago’s musical, theatrical, and general cultural scenes. With no public discourse or commentary, this proposal has been approved by the City Council Committee and is on the fast track to be pushed into law. It is up to us to let our elected officials know that Chicago’s creative scene is too rich, too varied, and too vital to be regulated in such a blanket fashion.
As irony would have it, at the same meeting Wednesday when the City Council will consider a resolution opposing war on Iran (as if that august body has anything to do with national policy), it is expected to approve a law that will pretty much drop a bomb on Chicago’s independent music community, if not nuke it entirely.
Following the jump is the Sun-Times’ latest story outlining the controversy, followed by a letter that one of many clubs endangered by the law sent to music lovers throughout the city on Monday.
The City Council meets in the Council Chamber located on the Second Floor of City Hall, 121 North La Salle St., starting at 10 a.m. on May 14.
In a poorly designed attempt to reign in underground party promoters in response to the E2 tragedy in 2003, the City Council is rushing to pass legislation that will make it more difficult and sometimes impossible for responsible concert organizers to present music at many legitimate licensed venues in Chicago.
In comments that have been echoed in hundreds of posts throughout the blogosphere and dozens of angry phone calls to aldermen since the so-called “promoter’s ordinance” was approved by the Committee on License and Consumer Protection last week, musical activists the Chicago Music Commission lashed out at the law and said they plan to protest it before the City Council vote on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the City Council is scheduled to vote on an ordinance that would make Chicago’s most responsible music clubs pay a steep price for a tragedy they had nothing to do with.
Five years after the E2 nightclub disaster that left 21 people dead in a stampede, the city has drafted an ordinance designed to prevent such a disaster from ever happening again. It is an estimable document in many ways that strives to tighten up the checks and balances of city government to ensure that only responsible promoters stage entertainment events. But in at least one respect, it is deeply flawed.
It requires any independent promoter hoping to do business with city clubs to buy a license for $500 to $2000 (depending on the size of the venue) plus acquire at least $300,000 in general liability insurance.
In effect, this would impose a double layer of regulations on any independent event at a club that already holds a public place of amusement license but which has fewer than 500 “fixed” seats. Larger venues, with more than 500 fixed seats, such as the Auditorium Theatre or Chicago Theatre, would not be subject to the restrictions.
The ordinance in effect singles out some of the city’s most respected clubs and theaters, including Metro, Schubas, Park West, the Vic, Buddy Guy’s Legends, Martyrs, the Hideout, the Riviera, Uncommon Ground and dozens more establishments with a history of running safe, well-managed events. Many of these venues rely on independent promoters to bring them events and help keep them in business. In return, these venues supply their staff and expertise to ensure that the event runs smoothly; every time a club opens its doors, its license is on the line, no matter who is promoting the event.