New Orleans City Council moves forward with new outdoor music licensing

Porch concert in New Orleans, photo by Durado Brooks via Salon726.com

The New Orleans City Council voted unanimously to allow live outdoor music in perpetuity, a move that began in the early days of the pandemic when performing outside was safer for musicians and audiences. Live outdoor music, which has proven to be popular, has existed in a state of limbo since the COVID-19 crisis began to ease.

“We have been working for quite some time to figure out how to make this permanent,” said council member Helena Moreno. She explained that new guidelines will offer “predictability, not only for the venues and musicians, but for people living around those areas.”

The motion will form the basis of an ordinance proposal to be considered for a vote at a future City Council meeting. Opponents of outdoor performances have long complained that the city fails to enforce existing noise ordinances. Mayor Latoya Cantrell has promised to enlist more zoning inspectors to enforce such codes.

Under new rules, music venues under conditional licensing will be limited to three outdoor performances per seven-day period, and shows on Sundays through Thursdays must conclude by 9 p.m., on Fridays and Saturdays by 10 p.m.

The Music and Culture Coalition of New Orleans, which has advocated for outdoor performances, issued a statement following the council vote: “This is the culmination of an over three-year effort on our part, and we want to issue a profound thank you to everyone who participated in focus groups, attended meetings, sent in comments, and called or e-mailed their representatives. It truly made a difference.”

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