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Child Performance Licensing laws in the UK

3rd April 2018

There are strict rules regarding children in performance situations.

A licence must be obtained before a child can take part in certain types of performance and activities in Great Britain.

Do I need a license?

Probably! The range of performance types that require a licence is quite broad and includes:

  • any performance for which a charge is made (even if it is not for admission);
  • performances on premises licensed to sell alcohol (e.g. a pub, hotel, or theatre);
  • any live broadcast performance (e.g. a television or radio broadcast);
  • any performance recorded (by whatever means) with a view to its use in a broadcast;
  • any performance that requires absence from school;
  • any child that will perform for more than four days within a period of six months;
  • any sport or modelling for which payment is made (to the child or to someone else in respect of the child taking part) other than expenses.

A performance licence may be required whether or not the child is paid.

There is no exemption for amateur groups, musical performances or student productions.

Licensing requirements apply only to children under the upper limit of compulsory school age (as a general rule up to the last Friday in June in the school year in which they have their 16th birthday).

If the performance is produced by a school, a license is not required, but the school must be responsible for organising the performance – not simply supplying children. The school must be an educational institution that provides primary or secondary education – not a dance 'school' that just teaches dance classes!

What about rehearsals?

Rehearsals taking place during that run of the show are subject to the same restrictions and conditions.

Children can’t take part in performances (including rehearsals) for more than six consecutive days.

A rehearsal on the day of a performance counts as part of that performance. So does warm-up time. This needs to be remembered as it counts towards the permitted hours the child can be at the place of performance.

The licensing requirements don’t apply to rehearsals that take place before the first day of performance.

Do I need chaperones?

If you need a licence for your production, your children must be supervised by a licensed chaperone unless they are in the care of their parent or agreed tutor.

A chaperone is there to look after the children in their care. They are not allowed to undertake any activities that could interfere with that, so they can not also be performing in your show.

An individual chaperone can only supervise a maximum of twelve children, but depending on the circumstances, the number they can effectively supervise might be much lower.

Children over five can not be in shared-sex changing rooms. As chaperones need to be with the children at all times, there needs to be at least one chaperone per changing room. The only time that a chaperone does not need to be by a child’s side is when they are actually performing.

Who is responsible for licensing my show and how do I get a licence?

The producer of the show is responsible for the application of the licence.

If you are a dance teacher supplying dancers for say a pantomime, then it is down to the producer of the pantomime to look after the licence, not you. However, if it is your own show, you are responsible.

Licences are granted by the local authority in which the child lives. This might not be the same local authority as your dance school or your place of performance. You might also need licences from different authorities depending on how broad your catchment area is.

You should contact the relevant local authority licensing department to find out more and to apply.

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