City Council to Vote on Promoters Ordinance Wednesday: Your Whole Music Scene is Endangered
By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on May 12, 2008 7:43PM
Jim DeRogatis's sometimes-pugnacious demeanor is the subject of many a poorly-reviewed band's ire, but it does come in handy now and then. DeRo is taking the lead on figuring out what the hell our city officials are thinking in trying to pass the proposed promoter's ordinance, and he recently offered Alderman Gene Schulter the chance to respond to the Chicago music community's collective concerns. By pointing out the obvious holes in the ordinance's basic fabric, he succeeds in exposing the rather shortsighted nature of the city's view on live music.
The ordinance's bottom line is admirable - to prevent a tragedy like the 2003 E2 nightclub disaster in which 21 people were killed in a stampede for the single, narrow exit when a fight broke out in the club. What the city fails to recognize (and which DeRogatis ably points out to Schulter) is that the ordinance makes no distinction between E2, a club that was cited for code violations on numerous occasions prior to the tragedy, and upstanding venues like Schubas, Martyr's, the Metro, and the Hideout that have spent considerable time and money ensuring that their clubs meet or exceed all city safety codes. They are also all PPA (Public Place of Amusement) licensed and carry appropriate levels of insurance, making the similar requirements of promoters outlined in the proposed ordinance totally superfluous when the events are held in licensed venues.
What DeRo touches on but doesn't totally flesh out is the fact that hosting parties under the shadow of this 'promoter's ordinance' is similar to hosting keg parties in high school - it's something people want to do, so they'll find a way to do it...regardless of any laws governing the action. Just like with teenagers, the potential for damage is lessened by making sure the partying is going down in a safe place - be it with parents there to take everyone's keys and make sure no one gets hurt, or in a properly licensed and insured event venue.
So what can we do? The ordinance is set to go to a vote tomorrow, so get the facts and get on the phone/email/fax to our city representatives TODAY. Tell 'em we're not about to lose our magazine/DIY/performance group/blog/band/non-profit/etc.-promoted events in Chicago.
Find your alderman here and call him or her, saying you support live music in our city and oppose the promoter's ordinance. C'mon Daley, get it straight - if a venue has a PPA license, let the promoters off the hook.
Photo by Olivia Leigh