Hurrah! After having closed earlier in the year, the Charlotte in Leicester is reopening. Excellent news, right?
Um... up to a point. Simon T emails with details of the new regime operating at the venue:
Out of curiosity someone from a local scene forum emailed the new owners about their request for unsigned bands to come forward and got this response:
"Getting a GIG !
The Charlotte is now being run as A Social Enterprise, the local community acting together to provide services needed by local people. The Charlotte will try and generate an income to ensure it covers its running costs and is self sustainable. Also The Charlotte will qualify for grant support. Any additional money that it generates is reinvested back into The Charlotte and no one makes a profit. We are hoping that this will make the venue more accessible to the community enabling us to use it to its full potential.
You will now be required to pay a deposit of £33 to play at the Charlotte or £45 as a headliner.
In return you will receive a minimum of 11 tickets (15 as a headliner) with a £3 entrance fee
Your fans will pay on the door and return your tickets. Every ticket collected up to your deposit amount will be refunded. Every ticket after your deposit amount will earn you 1.50 per ticket.
Example on £33 deposit
11 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your deposit
3 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we only return £9 and retain £24 of your deposit
17 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your deposit and give you £ 9
25 fans with your tickets pay £3 on the door we return your £33 and give you an additional £21
0 fans pay you get no deposit back!!!
Please complete the attached form and secure your GIG now.
We now open for hourly rehearsal hire (Main Stage) from 12th October 1030am-430pm 7 days a week
We charge £10 per hour Mon-Fri and £15 per hour Sat and Sunday
Why do I have to pay a deposit?
One of the reasons The Charlotte closed was poor attendance at its unsigned nights, we have to ensure we cover our costs or we will close again.
What if I don't agree?
At this time you won't get a GIG but you can request to become a member of our Management Committee who advise us on how we run."
So, pay to play, then - but a socially-aware pay to play. You can understand the thinking behind this, to a point, but doesn't it undermine the extent to which it is a social enterprise if only the bands which can afford the entry fee can get to pay: what about broke bands looking for a first step on the stage?
The trouble with pay-to-play is that it favours large bands with big families rather than the great. If you're a six piece nu-jazz act, you might find it slightly easier to hit the point where you make money back than if you're a singer-songwriter on your own.
Fine, have a rule where the bands only get paid if they bring in a certain number of fans. But asking for cash up front? Isn't that less a community endeavour, more pushing all the risk onto the bands?
What next? A two-drink minimum for all lead singers?