PLEASE STOP TO READ THIS
Next Wednesday, the Chicago City Council with vote to approve an ordinance that will (if passed) severely and irreparably damage Chicago’s culturally diverse and unparalleled music scene. Image a Chicago without music at Double Door, Schuba’s, Metro or any other small venue. It’s a scary (but very real) possibility with the the proposal already approved by the City Council Committee and on the fast track to be pushed into law.
“So what is detailed in the proposed ordinance,” you ask. Well, in short, the “Event Promoters” ordinance requires any event promoter (DIY or otherwise) to have a license from the city of Chicago and liability insurance of $300,000, but that’s just the beginning:
- The definition of “event promoter” is so loosely defined it could apply to a band that books its own shows or a teenage kid trying to get his favorite band into town.
- The “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 proposed 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 more details and the complete ordinance, check out Chicago music critic Jim DeRogatis’ blog here.
I can only assume that this proposed ordinance stems from the E2 nightclub disaster some five years ago and is the City’s overdone attempt at policing small clubs and venues. Problem is that it would ruin the diverse and thriving musical and cultural landscape here in Chicago. Independent promoters are the lifeblood for getting bands into smaller venues like Uncommon Ground, Beat Kitchen, and The Empty Bottle and (without a doubt) many small promoters that book those venues would no longer be able to afford to book shows anymore. And then what? Would the music disappear?
It is a bunch of bullshit. As someone who has been going to “DIY” shows in Chicago for going on 15 years, all I can say to the Chicago City Council is, “Don’t do it!” I’ve played on stages at places like The Fireside Bowl and Metro and have attended thousands of shows at dozens of venues here in Chicago and don’t see the point of all this. I just don’t.