"This provision is NOT intended to restrict artistic expression or any kind of entertainment"
Philadelphia councilman Mark Squilla has had to engage in a healthy dose of damage control following outrage over a proposed bill that would have seen venue owners required to collect personal details of their entertainers in a registry, to be shared with police at their request.
As Philly-based news site Billy Penn reports, the original version of the bill would have coerced "owners of nightclubs, cabarets, bars and restaurants … to collect the names, addresses and phone numbers" of musicians, DJs and other entertainers at their venues in order to create a registry for use by the Philadelphia Police Department.
In addition, changes proposed in the bill include directly involving the Philly PD in the issuing of "Special Assembly Occupancy" licenses — which dictate whether venues with a capacity of more than 50 people should be allowed to hold gigs — and "making other technical changes" (such as, you know, raising the license fee from $100 annually to $500 every two years).
"Giving performers' information to police when requested enables them to review past performances to see if there were any public safety issues during their events," Squilla told Billy Penn; however, he has backtracked somewhat in response to the growing outcry over what many see as an unconstitutional piece of legislation.
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In a public Facebook message posted yesterday (AEST), Squilla clarified, "The primary goal of this bill is to close a loophole in the current legislation that has allowed venues to operate without a special assembly license (SAOL).
"SAOLs are required for certain venues that have live musical and other entertainment. We learned that some operators were able to avoid obtaining an SAOL because there was no live music or a DJ but music was streaming or playing from an iPod or iPad. This bill now includes such amplified recorded music."
Furthermore, Squilla defended the bill's requirement regarding performer information, explaining that the notion of a registry and higher degree of city oversight in approving performances at venues had been misrepresented.
"The bill now contains a provision that venues should obtain performers' contact information to share with city officials should the need arise, but there is no City approval required for any events nor is a registry of performers being created," Squilla wrote.
"This provision is NOT intended to restrict artistic expression or any kind of entertainment but rather is aimed at addressing public safety and quality of life issues."
Squilla signs off advising that he would "consider any amendments" suggested to the bill, providing contact details for concerned citizens to get in touch about the new law.