Chicago City Council Passes New Performing Arts Venue License
Breakthrough legislation which makes doing
business with the city easier for live theaters in Chicago was published and
made effective officially last week at the December 7th Chicago City Council
The new legislation, ushered through by 46th Ward Alderman Helen Shiller,
establishes a brand new Performing Arts Venue (PAV) license specifically for
live theaters with under 500 seats. The legislation expands the areas where
theater venues may locate within the city, and cuts much of the red tape
that accompanied application for the Public Place of Amusement (PPA)
license. Successful passage of the PAV license follows nearly two years of
negotiations and unprecedented collaboration between city government and the
League of Chicago Theatres, the trade and marketing association for 180
Chicago-area theaters and theater companies.
Mayor Richard M. Daley was committed to developing this new license type,
and dedicated a city task force including representatives from his office
and top personnel at the new Department of Business Affairs and Licensing,
Department of Revenue, Department of Finance, Department of Cultural
Affairs, and the Chicago Fire Department. With additional guidance from
Alderman Shiller, the task force crafted a new PAV license which:
- Carries a shorter application form - The new PAV application is
approximately 6 pages. The PPA application was more than 20 pages when
discussions first began.
- Brings theaters into more neighborhoods - The new PAV allows any
theater up to 500 seats (in aggregate) to locate within 125 feet of a
residential zone; currently, only non-profits with 300 seats or less can
locate in these zones.
- Cuts red tape - Only limited, necessary back-up documents are required
to apply for a PAV. Extensive police background checks, complicated
financial documents and other cumbersome supplemental materials will no
longer be required. PAVs will be required to report management changes to
the city within 60 days instead of the current 10 days.
- Saves applicants time - PAV applications soon will be available on
the members-only section of the League of Chicago Theatres' web site,
chicagoplays.com, and on the Department of Business Affairs' web site,
cityofchicago.org. Previously, applications were available in person only
at the Department of Revenue and Department of Business Affairs and
Licensing. Theaters will also benefit from a new online application and
- Lowers fees - New legislation calls for a flat fee structure of $55
for all theaters up to 500 seats. Under the existing PPA, fees are $1
multiplied by the total number of seats. Non-profit theaters still retain
the option to request Aldermanic waiver of fees.
- Doesn't sweat the small stuff - Theaters under 100 seats that don't
have a mandatory admission charge won't need to obtain a PAV, although they
still require an occupancy card. Theaters in this category will be allowed
to collect voluntary donations.
- Improves access to Chicago city government - All PAV applications will
be handled by the city's new Department of Business Affairs and Licensing,
not the Department of Revenue. Business Affairs will be the sole contact
for PAV information, and will assign dedicated caseworkers to usher through
theaters' initial PAV applications. Moreover, the Chicago Department of
Buildings has agreed to offer "pre-inspections" of venues - to determine the
extent and potential cost of rectifying building code violations - before a
company signs a lease.
Follow Us On Twitter