Music, Politics

Chicago’s Crack Down on Event Promoters

Hot Mix 5 Acid Record LabelIt’s come to our attention that late last week the Chicago City Council rammed through a new “Promoter’s Ordinance” aimed at small-time / “underground” event promoters. According to the Save Chicago Culture blog:

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’ll 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.

The details:

  • The “Event Promoters” ordinance requires any event promoter to have a license from the city of Chicago and liability insurance of $300,000, but that’s just the start:
  • The definition of “event promoter” is so loosely defined it could apply to a band that books its own shows or a theater company that’s in town for a one-week run.
    “Event Promoter” must be licensed and will pay $500 – $2000 depending on expected audience size.
  • To get the license, applicant must be over 21, get fingerprinted, submit to a background check, and jump over several other hurdles.
    This ordinance seems targeted towards smaller venues, since those with 500+
  • permanent seats are exempt.
    Police must be notified at least 7 days in advance of event.

For the complete ordinance, check out Jim DeRogatis’ blog on the Chicago Sun-Times.

You’re encouraged to leave comments there as a form of petition. As of this writing there are already 1,340 comments on that post.

Here’s the comment that we left there:

Entire genres of music would not exist if it weren’t for “underground” music scenes; most notably in this case Chicago-blues and house music. Lets take the later for example. From the Wikipedia entry on house music:

“House music was developed in the houses, garages and clubs of Chicago and Detroit, and it was produced for local club-goers in the ‘underground’ club scenes, rather than for widespread commercial release. As a result, the recordings were much more conceptual, longer than the music usually played on commercial radio.”

This underground music went on to have a gigantic influence on dance music all over the world which is one reason why Chicago is known as an important cultural center. The underground clubs like the Ware(house) where this music developed would never have survived a draconian law like this. This is a deep disappointment, Chicago!

Our friend Micada has also posted up a bunch of helpful resources and links about the ordinance here ->