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Proposed policy changes would allow entertainers to drink on stage | Arts & Culture

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Proposed policy changes would allow entertainers to drink on stage
Proposed policy changes would allow entertainers to drink on stage

Policies in Washington could be changing to allow musicians to drink on stage during performances.

The Seattle PI reported yesterday that representatives from Seattle's nightlife scene met with the state's Liquor Control Board to discuss potential changes to guidelines that currently say musicians and entertainers can not drink on stage.

In the eyes of WSLCB, entertainers are considered employees and the rule says that employees are prohibited from consuming liquor of any kind while working on the licensed premises.

"Musicians are not actual employees. It's a different sort of employment," Chris Lucas, booking agent for Zola and Ginos, said. He continued, "Musicians are not working with your money. You want your bartenders of a steady mind when dealing with your money. While musicians are on stage, sometimes it's nice to have a drink and loosen up."

The new guidelines would allow entertainers to drink under the following conditions: 1. Alcohol service must be monitored by MAST servers; 2. Drinks must be served in nondescript containers; 3. Entertainers may not advertise any alcohol brands or products; 4. Entertainers may not promote drink specials; and 5. All entertainers performing as a group must be twenty-one years of age or older or no alcohol may be consumed by any entertainer while performing.

If the Liquor Control Board approves these changes, it would affect venues statewide.

The original rule was effective in January of 2010, but this proposal to change the conditions is the first that some Spokane musicians have heard of it. They're hoping it does change.

"When that law first came into effect, I won't lie, I was irked!" Caroline Francis Schibel, singer for Mon Cheri said. She continued, "I understand to a certain degree why the state banned the drinking on stage. They were worried about under-age band members drinking, performers getting too drunk, etc."

Schibel asked, "Why should we be punished for other people's poor decisions?"

She's not alone in her thoughts. Dustin Carroll, member for the Spokane-based band The City We Live In dislikes the rule as well.

"A lot of venues I've played at, including Seattle ones, do allow artists to drink onstage. Maybe not legally, but I've never been yelled at it for it," Carroll said. He continued, "Obviously it's happening and no one's getting hurt because of it. I don't even see why it would be illegal in the first place."

To get around the rule, Carroll noticed himself and others drinking outside, backstage, in the bathroom, or just putting alcohol in a water or soda bottle.

"If artists want to drink, they will. Especially those of us that tend to get anxious or nervous before we play," Caroll added.

The state's Liquor Control Board is now taking public comment for the proposed guideline changes [.PDF]. Input will be taken until October 12th when they host their public hearing in Olympia.

Comments can be mailed to Rules Coordinator, Liquor Control Board, P.O. Box 43080, Olympia, WA 98504. Email: rules@liq.wa.gov or fax: (360) 664-9689

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