Wednesday, July 23, 2008
No realm is immune, it seems, from the tide of arbitrary government action that is preceding the Olympics. (Yes, I know you can't really be "immune" from a "tide", but I'm writing this in a hurry.) The following comments are from a music scene insider involved in a club on the east side of Beijing:
For those following the "No fun Olympics" story, clubs which have stopped performances, following the sudden new requirement that they must get performance licenses to have shows, have been given more bad news. The Culture Ministry is responsible for giving the licenses, but they say they will not give a license to any club until it gets an approval from the Sanitation Department. The Sanitation Department, however, refuses to give approval.
One of my friends who works in the Beijing government called up a contact in the Sanitation Department for an explanation, and she was told that the Culture Ministry instructed the Sanitation Department not to give approvals to any club. According to another club owner we spoke to, the Culture Ministry does not want to be accused of preventing "culture", so they have used this rather clumsy administrative head fake to hide their actions.
Some clubs have licenses from earlier times (large ones were all required to get them). Most smaller clubs don't have them. Some have decided to go ahead and hold shows anyway, while others, especially those run by foreigners, are more cautious.