Performers’ union launches campaign for more live acts in bars

Trystan Gravelle Honest pub

Equity, the union representing actors and other performers, has launched a campaign to encourage more bars and pubs to offer live entertainment, from music to plays.

Its Live Entertainment Works! campaign aims to highlight the new licensing laws that make it much easier for bars and pubs to put on acts such as musicians.

One of the key changes is that live music events where there will be 200 or fewer in the audience do not need a licence, providing the live music does not take place before 8am or after 11pm. If the music is unamplified then there is no audience size restriction.

Performances of plays or of dance up to an audience of 500 are also permitted without licensing.

Equity members will soon be visiting licensees to ask them to support the Live Entertainment Works! campaign. Venues signing up to the initiative will be celebrated on the Equity website at and asked to display a poster.

The union will also provide a guide that gives further details about the licensing changes and help on employing acts.

Research showed that 24% of licensees reported an increase in takings of 25% to 50% on nights when they had music and 71% reported an increase of 10% to 25%. On average, pubs without featured music were three times more likely to close than pubs with featured music.

Hilary Hadley, Equity’s head of live performance, said: “We believe this is a win-win situation for our members and publicans. Pubs get more trade through people enjoying the live entertainment, the community benefits by joining together in a shared activity and Equity members get to do what they do best.”

Equity is the UK Trade Union representing professional performers and other creative workers from across the spectrum of the entertainment, creative and cultural industries.

Pictured: Trystan Gravelle in DC Moore’s Honest, a one-man play performed in the Mailcoach pub in Northampton and the Queen’s Head pub in London’s West End in 2010 and 2011.

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