Licensing Guide

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Perhaps at some point in your career, you might have an opportunity to organise a large-scale arts festival held across multiple venues with a variety of programmes across arts disciplines e.g. stage plays, a music concert, film screenings and public talks. Both local and overseas artists would be participating and there would be F&B pop-ups to provide refreshments. To boost attendance, you might be using wall banners and streetlamp banners to publicise the event. Organising such a complex event is clearly going to take some effort as it is, but you will also need to consider the various permits and licenses to get the event off its feet! 

As a starting point, here is a non-exhaustive Event Licensing Guide, based on the scenario given above, introducing you to the different types of permits and licences you will need, as well as some useful tips to complete this process as easefully as possible.

As there are a variety of possible permits and licenses for a range of purposes and they are managed by different government agencies, this Guide will be divided into four (4) sections for ease of understanding.

This Guide is non-exhaustive. Regulations and processes can change, so do seek clarification with relevant authorities wherever necessary, or consult with experienced arts managers who have gone through this process.

 

 

Resources - Arts Communities 3

2. The “Location-based” Permits and Licences

(i) Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) by Singapore Police Force (SPF)

A Public Entertainment Licence (PEL) or an Arts Entertainment Licence (AEL) is required under the Public Entertainments and Meetings Act (Chapter 257) for any public entertainment that is provided in any place to which the public has access to, whether paid or otherwise, unless exempted. Hence, it is advisable to always check with SPF or IMDA if your arts festival needs either a Public Entertainment Licence and an Arts Entertainment Classification or an Arts Entertainment Licence only. 

For the application of a PEL, click here to go through the following steps: 

  1. In the <Search Box>, type in ‘Public Entertainment Licence’;
  2. Press <Search> and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Public Entertainment Licence’ and click <Add to Selection>;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply>;
  5. Click <Proceed>;
  6. Click <Apply>;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form

NOTE:

  1. Determine the area(s)your arts festival will be utilising;
  2. Firm up the position(s) of the stage(s) and the food stalls;
  3. Fix your entry and exit points;
  4. Determine the positions of your security personnel;
  5. Firm up the locations of the barricades (SPF will advise if additional barricades are required and the type of barricades needed for your arts festival);
  6. Estimate your audience numbers;
  7. Confirm the list of performances presented on the stage(s);
  8. Get the full list of food stalls operating at your arts festival

 

(ii) Temporary Change of Use Permit by Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF)

A Temporary Change of Use Permit is commonly known as a “Temporary Permit” and approval by SCDF has to be sought for anything from stage shows to exhibitions and carnivals, and where temporary structures like tents, stages, booths, stalls and kiosks are used, whether within a building or at an outdoor area. Obtaining approval from SCDF is to ensure that adequate fire safety measures have been provided for. Your outdoor F&B pop-ups and the stage(s) for your music concert will be considered examples of such “temporary structures”, hence, you must apply for a Temporary Change of Use Permit.

For more information on the Temporary Change of Use Permit and Fire Safety Conditions, click here.

For the application of the Temporary Change of Use Permit, click here to go through the following steps: 

  1. In the <Search Box>, type in ‘Temporary Change of Use Permit’;
  2. Press <Search> and you will see a whole list of Licences;
  3. Look for ‘Application for Temporary Change of Use Permit’ and click <Add to Selection>;
  4. Click the Red Box which says <Review and Apply>;
  5. Click <Proceed>;
  6. Click <Apply>;
  7. Login with your Corp Pass or Singpass
  8. Proceed to the Form

NOTE:

Certain temporary structures like tents and pop-ups will require you to get “PE certification”. This means you must engage a Professional civil or structural Engineer (the PE!) to design, supervise, inspect the erection of the temporary building, and submit the application for Permit to Use. This application must reach the Building and Construction Authority (BCA)three (3) weeks before the construction of the temporary building.

For more information on whether your arts festival will need a PE, click here.


(iii) Licence for Display of Outdoor Advertising Sign or Signboard by Building and Construction Authority (BCA)

For outdoor advertisements like wall-mounted banners, streetlamp banners, promotional signages and billboards, you will need prior approval from BCA before you can install them.

For more information on this BCA licence, click here.  

To apply for this BCA licence, click here.

In addition, the National Arts Council offers free rental of streetlamp-spaces in the Arts and Heritage District as well as the Civic District, but only to Singapore-based arts group or institutions promoting their arts events. To apply, click here.

NOTE:

Arts groups and institutions have to bear the cost of producing, installing and deinstalling their own streetlamp banners. For streetlamp-spaces in Orchard Road and other popular Singapore Tourism Board sites, there is a fee involved, along with Terms and Conditions that must be adhered to.

 

(iv) Temporary Fair Permit by Singapore Food Agency (SFA)

We do not advise you to take on the role and responsibilities of managing the temporary F&B pop-ups at your arts festival. Instead, engage a licenced F&B operator to do the job so that you can focus on other more crucial parts of the festival. However, if you really must, then click here to find out how to apply for this Temporary Fair Permit.

 

3. The "Don't Forget You Need to Apply" Permits and Licences

(i)  The Music Permit by Composers and Authors Society of Singapore (COMPASS) 

Since your arts festival will likely feature music, whether recorded or live, indoors or outdoors, you will need to apply for a music permit to from COMPASS, who administer the public performance, broadcast and reproduction rights in music and musical associated literary works on behalf of its members. If you fail to apply for this licence, you will be violating the Copyright Act of Singapore.

 

(ii) Other Permissions for Use of Copyrighted Materials

You will need to seek permission from the owner of copyrighted materials to use his or her work in your arts festival, regardless of form or medium. Royalty fees may need to be paid to the copyright owner unless you negotiate a waiver with the copyright owner. 

 

4. The "Other To-Do Things"

Depending on the nature of your programmes, there may be other permits and licences that you may need, eg. an AVA licence if there are animals involved in your staged performances or a liquor licence if you want to sell alcohol within your festival grounds.

Outside of permits and licensing, there are a few common matters that are critical to event management. Firstly, you will need Public Liability Insurance for all performances held both indoors and outdoors. This can be obtained from any insurance company.

Secondly, you may need to apply for Visas for some of your visiting overseas speakers and performers with the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA).

Thirdly, you may need to submit Withholding Tax with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) after your visiting overseas speakers and performers complete their work with you. If you wish to deduct withholding tax from their fees, do inform them prior to their accepting the job, to avoid any dispute.

Lastly, here are some outdoor venues taken care of by National Parks (NParks), Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) and Singapore Land Authority (SLA) that you may want to hold your arts festival in. These are separate venue rental procedures you will need to carry out, aside from the application of permits and licences.