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flag Norway - Full Moon 41 - 02/19/00

Norway2000: Watt vs. VAT
Norwegian politicians are killing live music

Let me tell you how it will be,
There's one for you, nineteen for me,
Cause I'm the taxman! Yeah, I'm the taxman!

(G. Harrison, Taxman, Revolver, 1966)

Yet again the trigger is getting pulled, as the politicians are aiming at rock as a source of money income. This spring there's a big chance that the Norwegian Government will agree on a suggestion of putting taxes on concert tickets for popular music, claiming this sort of entertainment to be "luxury goods" (this new tax-claim will also concern movie theaters, and I will not be surprised if the next move will be to put taxes on books and magazines, but that's some other story).

It's a pity, because this new tax law will, due to more expensive tickets, force the clubs to a safer programming of acts to survive. This means it could become more difficult for new (local or National, but also international up-and-coming acts) bands/artists to get to play, simply because there's a limit of how much the audience will pay to check out some unknown names. Last month there was arranged a Venue festival in Oslo at some of the most important clubs, such as So What!, Blå, and John Dee (Rockefeller's side scene), which also marked the importance of these venues, showing a great activity and creativity in giving the audience an impressing line of gigs to chose from. This has also brought Oslo to the top of European cities when it comes to pop-rock repertoire of live music. On January 25th the daily paper Dagsavisen had an article on this tax-matter, asking the "in charge" people of the aforementioned venues on the topic. The whole bunch was worried, of course, and Claes Olsen form the highly prolific club So What! (a 300 capacity club which has brought "every" band/artist of indie/alternative importance - Yo La Tengo, Mogwai, Thurston Moore, Neutral Milk Hotel, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Stereolab, Lightning Seeds, Ben Christophers, Built To Spill, Supergrass, Rae & Christian, Tortoise, Elliott Smith, bob hund - the list is lo-o-o-ng! - to Oslo over the last years, as well as launching a lot of Norwegian acts, all this at indeed fair prices) was quite clear in his statement: if this new law comes through, So What! will close down.

So, if this comes through, we'd better prepare for a slim future of exciting live music in Oslo. And I don't think I'm too pessimistic when I say it'll be even worse for the rest of the country. So, think twice, Mrs. Minister of Cultural Affairs and all you other ignorants!

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