The second Flux Summit was held last night in San Francisco. On the Flux website, it is described as an event to discuss topical issues related to the electronic music industry, as well as to provide an opportunity for industry networking. This event was free and open to the public. The topic of discussion for this event was, “What’s Shaking Down SF Music Venues?”
The discussion was moderated by Michael Winger, of the San Francisco Chapter of the Recording Academy, and there were four panellists who provided insight into the discussion: Terrance Alan, founding president of the San Francisco Entertainment Commission; Mark Rennie, an entertainment law specialist and legal counsel for clubs including Slim’s and the Great American Music Hall; Tim Benetti, founder and co-owner of the club, Bottom of the Hill; and Debra Walker, a candidate for San Francisco District 6 Supervisor in the upcoming 2010 election.
The panel presented a picture of a concerted and organized effort by a couple of government organizations to systematically eliminate clubs that host live music here in San Francisco. According to members of the panel, there has been a very aggressive effort over the last two years by both the California Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) department and the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) to shutter these venues, using many different procedural and legal tactics. There was wide consensus on the panel that the SFPD is primarily acting on quality of life complaints from neighborhood residents, such as loud noise and uncontrolled crowds at closing time, but the motivations of the ABC, a statewide organization, remain unclear.
Of most concern to the panel and guests in the crowd, were the lack of intervention by the city’s executive branch and the lack of an organized effort by the local community to prevent the loss of live music here in San Francisco. There was widespread agreement that the city derives a substantial financial benefit from these clubs, as well as a certain cultural prestige. In an effort to combat the current apathy, the panel urged city residents to file complaints with their elected officials, protesting the potential loss of live music. They also mentioned the creation of an organization designed to unite all stakeholders in the California music industry in a concerted lobbying effort, the California Music and Culture Association (CMAC). CMAC can be found on Facebook, and the panellists urged all concerned citizens to join.