Thursday, Feb. 19th, I attended the public meeting held in Columbus Council Chambers to learn more about the proposed change to local regulations which should
have been of great interest to this music community. The proposal would add to establishments serving alcohol the category of "traditional restaurant," it removes the distance requirements currently preventing positive development in parts of Columbus, and it specificly forbids live music!
It wasn't a well-attended event considering how some locals are about serving alcohol. What REALLY blew me away, however, was that not a single musician was there to represent the needs of the local music performance community. This is nuts. These are jobs.
In the article on the meeting which appeared in Friday's LE, I'm the one who spoke up in favor of allowing live performance in "traditional restaurants." As it is clear many people in Columbus are concerned about crimes occuring around certain kinds of bars and clubs, I emphasized that live music has a positive place in family restaurants. Live background music adds atmosphere and enhances the dining experience. It means jobs for local musicians.
Columbus derives quite a bit of economic benefit from CSU, its Schwob Scool of Music and the Columbus Symphony. My point is quite simple: If we are so quick to brag about those, why would we fail to consider the importance of employment for the many musicians in this area?
I understand many of you may be underwhelmed at the thought of playing background music. It probably doesn't rank high on the egoboo and creative satisfaction scales. But let's be practical. Most of the City Council, the City Manager, and the various community/business groups are in favor
of this regulation change, but under pressure not
to allow anything which would create additional crime problems. Unfortunately, they equate certain kinds of live performance with those problems. They will not vote exactly the way you might prefer at this time.
You still have to eat, pay rent, put gas in the car, etc. The money a struggling musician might earn in pay and tips for such gigs is better than no money and no performance opportunity/experience. Changing this proposed regulation adding "traditional restaurants" serving beer, wine and mixed drinks to also allow live background or atmosphere music "opens the door" to potential work, and would show certain segments of the Columbus population that live music doesn't automatically result in crime, riots, gunfire and massive societal disruption.
There will be a first reading of this regulation still banning the performance of live music in "traditional restaurants"
at 5:30 PM this coming Tuesday (Feb. 24th) at the evening City Council meeting. Each of us in Columbus has THREE City Councilors representing us, the one in whose district we live and the 2 At-Large members. Contact Mayor Wetherington, too. Their phone numbers can be found by going to www.columbusga.org
. And a bunch of you need to show up at that meeting to speak out for yourselves and jobs for musical performers.
A career in musical performance has never been an easy road. Why, in this economy, would we close the door on potenial jobs? Whether or not you would personally choose to work such a gig, I urge everyone who is part of the Columbus music community to support those who need this opportunity for work.
(NOTE: I am not a musician, have nothing to do with CSU, or have anything to do with the restaurant business. Nor am I a member of any of the business & community groups here in town, ALL of whom have voted support for this proposed regulation which seems almost certain to pass WITHOUT jobs for musicians.)