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Punk Legend Chairs British Survey of Live Music

Irish punk rock legend Feargal Sharkey will head a survey to examine the state of live music in Britain, which was announced by the government on Tuesday.

The number of live bands and appropriate venues has declined over the past few decades, according to the Musicians Union and other critics.

Complex licensing laws have also made it hard for small venues to support grassroots live acts.

Partially as a result, studio-manufactured pop bands have swamped the music charts, they say.

Arts Minister Estelle Morris said the survey will kick-start the Live Music Forum, a new body which will examine new ways to promote live music and create more venues.

“Most musicians will tell you there is nothing like live performance,” said Sharkey, former lead singer of cult band The Undertones.

“For performers and audiences alike, these few wonderful moments of direct, personal contact can provide a lifetime of memories,” added the singer, who worked in the music industry following a successful solo career after The Undertones split.

The forum will also measure the impact of a new, simplified licensing act, to be introduced in 2005, which will make it easier for the 100,000 smaller music venues to put on more live acts.

The initiative has been welcomed by the Musician’s Union, which has criticized the government for siding with the record industry rather than supporting live music.

“This is the most important move the government has made for arts and culture in Britain. We hope people will now realize that live music is where it’s at,” a union spokesman said.

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