The Spanish government wants to set up live music rehabilitation councils in up to eight cities to help finance improvements to existing music venues when necessary.

Spanish culture minister Carmen Calvo disclosed the plan during a meeting in Madrid yesterday (Dec. 12) with the 150-member national association of live music venues, Acces.

The meeting was the first between Acces and the government. Acces communications director Armando Ruah says Calvo made it clear she wants the live music sector to be involved in developing any new legislation covering the status of cultural industries in Spain.

The rehabilitation councils will consist of members from the culture ministry, the regional government and the city hall in each town. The ministry would provide 50% of necessary funds. A first meeting has already been held in Barcelona to discuss noise problems concerning local venues. Acces members are mostly small venues housing between 75-400 people, although some have a capacity of around 1,500. The councils will refurbish existing venues, and not create new ones.

"A parallel rehabilitation system already exists for private Spanish theaters that need money to finance whatever improvements are necessary, and we told the minister that Acces thinks the method should be extended to live venues that, for example, need to eradicate a noise problem that threatens their operating licence," says Ruah. "She said she hoped that rehabilitation councils could be operating in up to eight cities by 2008, which is very good news for us."

Ruah adds that the minister appeared "well informed" about problems facing the small-venue live scene. "She asked us to organize ourselves better with regional and national committees to streamline communications between the music sector and public administration." Acces held its first national congress in Madrid at the end of November.

"The meeting with Calvo is an important first step towards improving the small-venue live scene in Spain," says Ruah. A meeting is planned for Dec. 22 with Teddy Bautista, executive president of Spanish authors' and publishers' association SGAE, which has often called for a more dynamic small-venue scene to be created to give its members a wider public through live concerts.