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Live Music in South Ayrshire deserves greater support

This petition had 1,799 supporters

First off, I normally hate petitions; they skim the surface and too often don't get to the detail but sometimes they appear to have a role to play...

This petition specifically seeks to highlight the significant issues facing music and event promoters in the South Ayrshire Council area through an unfair and discriminatory policy toward hall lets and the impact this is having in the development of a strong live music scene in the area.

By signing the petition you are supporting 

  • A specific call to review the three day booking for the St Andrews Live Music event planned for the weekend of 30th November to 2nd December at Troon Concert Hall which was cancelled in favour of a half day let for a regular monthly retail event.
  • A call to recognise and give greater priority to bookings and lets that aim to use Concert Halls for their primary purpose of providing music and entertainment
  • A call to review the unfair and noncompetitive policy of providing preferential bookings simply on the basis of having booked previously
  • A call to review the current pricing strategy for concert hall lets and create a fairer and more appropriate pricing scale.
  • A call to review the licencing policy current restricted access policy to live music events for under eighteens that continues to create problems for promoters that do not exist in the rest of Scotland.

This is about live music venues and the role they play quite clearly in keeping music live and the recent application to overturn a weekend long music and arts weekend organised to celebrate St Andrews weekend has highlighted what is a badly weighted policy that gives clear preference to retail events that have been in situ. 

This is not about being against craft fairs or car boot sales; it is about live music venues being made more available for their primary purpose of hosting live music. Not just rock, not just pop but all genres. Live music can have a regenerating impact on areas and our specific issue with the cancelled booking for Troon Concert Hall appears to indicate that there is no political understanding of how venues can improve the economy of an area - even a small location like Troon.

Troon Concert Hall is one of those venues that we have all been to at some point in our lives. School concerts sitting alongside Stiff Little Fingers and A Fiddle Orchestra, although quite clearly not on the same night! A multi purpose music venue with a stage, stalls, a balcony - a real venue for several hundred people with character where you can watch the acts without the need for six large screens.

If we don't fight for them across the country they will like Troon, become harder and harder to book. There is undoubtedly a place for temporary retail sales such as craft, arts and car boot but not at the expense of the primary function of entertainment.

As it currently stands, regular protected monthly lets for retail stalls ensure that on more than half of the weekends available for let in 2018 Troon Concert Hall cannot be booked for live music on a Saturday night. That must surely be due for a change?

And local councillor, if you think a strong, supported events strategy in Ayrshire's Growth Deal then you really should be researching a little more. There area host of issues that spawn out from the four above and I know of a dozen music and events promoters who will quite happily sit around a table and advise you on how you can create a policy that will actively encourage the creation of privately operated events with no drain on council funds. 

(And as an aside, visitors who come to Ayrshire don't recognise your North, South and East Ayrshire council divides and will quite happily readily cross your borders to avail of entertainment. Can the three councils not recognise the value of joint marketing their events calendars in this digital age?)

The "lost" St Andrews weekend 2018 was based on the formula that had success with WinterStorm 2016 - A weekend featuring named Scottish acts spreading across genres with a very strong focus on Scottish food and drink, arts and crafts and of course the destination by the sea playing a major part. It was, like WinterStorm, envisaged as a tourism weekend - a bit like buying a golf break to Troon but without the golf and your music flung in instead. Does it work? Well WinterStorm is on target to sell more than 800 bednights this year and that fills local hotels, bars and restaurants and at that time of year can also add to secondary spends in retail businesses who interact. An estimate of £250,000 in economic impacts is conservative.

Never mind the unfairness of losing a booking that had already been approved but what sort of logic is in place that overturns the potential of an annual music event on a clearly date specific weekend for a retail event that a) could have shifted to another Saturday afternoon or b) moved to a different venue. 

In their defence, and to their credit, South Ayrshire Council have intimated that they are willing to host a meeting with music promoters to discuss letting issues and that is a positive but this needs some pressure to be applied. 

The Craft Fair secured their preferred status with the support of a 675 name petition saying rather unfairly, it was to "Save your Craft Fair" (It could quite possibly and more accurately read "Help us secure long term tenancy rights rights to a 650 capacity concert hall for £35 per hour on the first Saturday of every month in perpetuity without any financial risk or threat of competition to us whatsoever")

We are therefore risking a little in raising a petition of our own. Please support us and share with musicians, promoters, agents, managers, record companies and most importantly your fan base.  Without sounding pompous this is not just a debate about Troon Concert Hall it is one that is replicated across the country please support it.

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