A Philadelphia City Council member’s proposal would require performance venues to create a registry containing artists’ personal information, which would then be available to local police upon request.
The local news site Billy Penn reported that Mark Squilla’s proposal would cover restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and cabarets with a capacity of at least 50 people.
The proposed registry would contain real names, addresses and phone numbers for rappers, bands and DJs, and would allow police to deny venues’ applications for a “special assembly occupancy” permit based on factors including “crime, traffic, litter, noise, parking and hours of operation; as well as any community concerns, particularly those of neighbors in the immediate vicinity.”
That would represent a change from the city’s current procedure, which places these matters under the jurisdiction of the local Department of Licenses and Inspections. Squilla’s bill would also increase the application fee for such licenses from $100 for either a new or renewed license to $500 for a two-year license.
Billy Penn noted that a fatal shooting took place last year outside a rap concert in the city’s first district, which Squilla represents. But Squilla said that the measure was not inspired by any specific performer, arguing that giving authorities access to performers’ personal information would allow them to review past events for the potential of safety issues.
“Some clubs were operating without a license because they found a way to have music without a DJ or live performer/band,” he said. “This legislation will include new forms of music/streaming that weren’t around when this first Special assembly bill became law.”
The councilman also said he has received no criticism from the local entertainment community. But at least one local production company owner, Sean Agnew, said he had not heard about Squilla’s proposal until being contacted by Billy Penn.
“This is news to me. I’m not sure what the reasoning or theory is,” Agnew said. “As someone who books 600-plus shows a year, I have never once received an artist’s home address or phone number. It’s all through booking agents, managers, publicists. There is a firewall in place with the artists. I can’t imagine a band’s representatives wanting to give their clients information over to the police without a really good reason.”
Gawker reported that Squilla took part in a “white lives matter” supporters said was not racially-motivated. However, a Facebook page attributed to the event’s organizer, Jack Owens, featured several racist posts.