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Theatre Licence

In terms of the Theatres Act 1968 theatre premises require to be licensed by their local authority. The theatre licensing scheme is administered by the Council's Licensing Team.

The team are able to provide general guidance on the scheme but cannot assist you to complete your application form or provide legal advice on whether a licence is required. You should seek legal advice from a solicitor or advice centre if you are unsure as to whether you require a licence.

When is a theatre licence required?

A theatre licence is required for any performance of a play in a public place - this includes any premises, highway, road or any open space to which, for the time being, the public are permitted to have access whether on payment or otherwise.

A theatre licence is required even if the premises are licensed to sell alcohol or a public entertainment licence is already held.

"Play" means:

(a)  any dramatic piece, whether involving improvisation or not, which is given wholly or in part by one or more persons actually present and performing and in which the whole or major proportion of what is done by the person or persons performing, whether by way of speech, singing or action, involves the playing of a role and;

(b)   any ballet given wholly or in part by one or more persons actually present and performing, whether or not it falls within paragraph (a) of this definition.

Which premises require a theatre licence from the council?

A licence is required for any premises or any place where it is intended to perform a play in public, whether or not the performance is free.

Who should hold the theatre licence?

The person organising the public performance of a play and the person in control of the premises to be used i.e. the manager need to decide between themselves who should hold the theatre licence and ensure that a licence is in effect, otherwise both could be guilty of a criminal offence. Either person can apply for a theatre licence.

How do I apply for a theatre licence?

If you want to apply for a licence you must submit an application form along with the required documents and the appropriate fee.

Application forms which have guidance notes attached to them and a list of fees are available from the Related Documents section of this page. You should read the guidance notes carefully before completing your application form.

There are two separate application forms. One is for persons applying for a licence as an individual and the other is to be completed by applicants who are companies, partnership or organisations.

If you wish a temporary licence for a particular event your application should preferably be made at least 3 months before the event to allow time for the application to be processed. Applications must be received at least 21 days in advance of the date of the event. 

All applications are copied to the Council's advisors who can recommend that conditions in addition to the standard conditions detailed on this page are attached to the licence when granted. If you do not want to accept any recommended conditions then the application would be referred to the Licensing Committee for a decision to be made regarding which conditions will apply to your licence. Mandatory background checks will be carried out on all applicants by Police Scotland and applicants' details will be retained on computer. You will be contacted once vetting is complete

How will my application be decided?

Applications which do not attract any adverse comments/objections are granted by the Chief Solicitor under delegated powers. All other applications require to be referred to the Licensing Committee for determination. You will be advised if your application is being referred to the Licensing Committee. The Committee meets on a monthly basis.

Complaints about licensed theatre premises

Complaints regarding the conduct of licence holders may be made to the Licensing Team. These should be made in writing by email or letter providing full details of the nature of the complaint.

Complaints regarding unlicensed theatres should be made to Police Scotland by calling 101.