Licensing ordinance off the table for now

A controversial ordinance to license event promoters has been withdrawn from tomorrow's city council agenda, but opponents who fear the measure would stifle the local performing arts scene are going ahead with plans for a musical protest in front of City Hall.

"They [the city] are still considering and looking for more input," says Jeanne Theresa Newman, a performance artist and organizer of the protest. "We still want to drive the point home that this is not helpful to independent musicians. The cost of the license and insurance is cost prohibitive and it would put a lot of independent artists out of commission."

The "peaceful protest" is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. in front of City Hall at 121 N. LaSalle St.

Andrea Bunch, lead singer for the Congress of Starlings, will perform protest songs, and musicians, promoters, and performance artists will be on hand to accompany.

Organizers are also encouraging those planning to attend to bring instruments and join in, says Newman.

The proposed ordinance, introduced by the department of Business Affairs and Licensing at the request of Mayor Richard M. Daley, would require promoters of events that draw over 100 people to purchase two-year licenses ranging in cost from $500 to $2000.

Musicians, promoters, and groups that don't meet the requirements of the not-for-profit exemption questioned why they should fork over for a license if they are holding events in venues already licensed and inspected by the city.

Other provisions, such as a stipulation that licensed promoters must be 21 years of age, drew criticism from those in the music business who see youthful promoters as an important creative force.

Ald. Eugene Schulter (D-47), chair of the licensing committee, said in a written statement today that he was tabling the ordinance because he wanted it to be considered "fully and deliberately" before facing a full council vote.

Schulter met this morning with representatives of the "entertainment industry," including local club owners, to hear concerns.

"Though the ordinance did pass my committee last Wednesday, I feel that there are still unanswered questions and issues that should be considered," says Schulter.