Jennifer Gregor, organiser of A Little April Foolery - opinion
Events are being staged in opposition to restrictive event licencing laws
Imagine a country where every artistic event, from painters exhibiting a few pieces in cafés to readings in bookshops, had to be licensed. Even if it’s tiny. Even if it’s free.
That could be Scotland after 1 April. New legislation on Public Entertainment Licensing, intended to regulate big unmanageable free events like raves and firework displays, comes into force on Sun 1 Apr and, due to the removal of the word ‘free’, all free events will be illegal unless they’re licensed or specifically exempted by the local council.
Glasgow City Council has put the introduction of licenses on hold pending a review, while the City of Edinburgh Council is bringing in the licenses temporarily whilst waiving the fees, pending a public consultation on the matter. It’s a good start, but fails to acknowledge that many grassroots artists and community event organisers will be put off by the extra admin, even if there’s no fee. Not all councils across Scotland have declared as yet how they intend to implement the PEL changes either, further muddying the situation.
That’s where A Little April Foolery comes in. It’s an umbrella event calling on small-scale artists to stage little events all over Scotland. The plan is to raise awareness of the grassroots arts, protest against licensing laws which stand to do us harm, and to give our communities a day of fantastic free events! Anyone can take part, either by staging an event themselves or just by getting out and seeing what’s going on.
Events we know about so far include a ukulele band in Glasgow, a sitar/tabla performance in Dundee and everything from film screenings and multi-disciplinary art events to egg rolling in Edinburgh. There will also be some artists working by stealth, leaving pretty things around the city centres or doing pop-up performances wherever they happen to be, and a co-operative documentary team using the day to take a snapshot of Scotland’s lesser-known cultural life.
For more information about April Foolery, what’s on or how to take part, keep an eye on our blog.