I hope Mayor Dixon signs the live entertainment bill
Last night, the Baltimore City Council passed a bill which lets more bars and restaurants bring in live entertainment.
City Council President Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake, who sponsored the measure, said it makes Baltimore "more marketable as a city."
She's right. This bill, which is a drastically scaled-back version of an earlier live entertainment initiative, is an important step for Baltimore.
More live entertainment means more opportunities for bars and clubs to bring in DJs, karaoke and live bands. Local and regional groups will have more places to perform -- even if it's just acoustic nights ...
Currently, Mayor Sheila Dixon is considering whether or not she will sign the bill. It does not have enough city council votes to override a veto. That means it's up to the mayor. As a nightlife and local entertainment blogger, I want to see this bill passed. More live entertainment in Baltimore, means a bigger music community and more destinations for locals and tourists alike.
I don't think most people realize what is technically "live entertainment" in this city. Anything that involves dancing, karaoke, a DJ or a band is considered live entertainment. I've been in quite a few places that have a DJ or dancing on Friday and Saturday nights but don't have a live entertainment license. On the flip side, there are plenty of bars and restaurants (Pazo, for one) that should have live entertainment but don't.
Also, almost anything involving zoning in this city (and, I suspect, most cities) is a major headache. A couple months ago, I sat down with Annie Linskey, who wrote this piece in today's paper about the bill. We tried to figure out why some bars have live entertainment when they're not in the proper zones for it. Both of us ended up scratching our heads.
I understand the neighborhood associations' alarm at the idea of bringing in more live entertainment. If there are enough safeguards in place to find a happy medium on noise and other nuisance -- and I think the other two measures passed yesterday have enough -- the bill will be good for Baltimore.
Credit where credit is due: Rawlings-Blake, who has been working on expanding live entertainment in this city for years, should be commended for her efforts. Now, all we need is for Mayor Dixon to sign it.
Above, councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, against the bill, sees clashes between bar or restaurant owners and area residents. (Baltimore Sun photo by Algerina Perna / February 23, 2009)