Blu Jaz Cafe licensed to play on - for now at least

Blu Jaz Cafe, a stalwart of the Kampong Glam neighbourhood for the past 13 years, can continue to operate as a cafe and hold live music performances.
Blu Jaz Cafe, a stalwart of the Kampong Glam neighbourhood for the past 13 years, can continue to operate as a cafe and hold live music performances.PHOTO: ST FILE

Cancellation of its public entertainment licence on hold pending appeal board move

The music at Blu Jaz Cafe plays on, at least for now, after the popular music venue said on its Facebook page yesterday that the cancellation of its public entertainment licence has been put on hold.

The post also noted that Blu Jaz was informed late on Sunday night that the cancellation date of its Public Entertainment Licence "would not take effect on Oct 22 or any specified date" until the Public Entertainment Appeal Board (PEAB) makes a final decision.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the police confirmed they had been notified by the PEAB "that the cancellation of Blue Jaz Cafe's public entertainment licence will be put on hold until PEAB makes a decision on the appeal".

This means that Blu Jaz Cafe, a stalwart of the Kampong Glam neighbourhood for the past 13 years, can continue to operate as a cafe and hold live music performances.

It was facing having its public entertainment licence cancelled because it had "repeatedly flouted licensing conditions" under the Public Entertainment Act on various occasions, putting patrons and staff at risk, according to a statement released by the police on Oct 19.

One of them was "severe overcrowding". A check by the police on April 28 found that there were "more than 150 persons on the second floor of Blu Jaz Cafe, more than five times the approved occupancy load" of 30 persons on that floor.

Blu Jaz was informed of the breach of rules, but when a check was done the following week, it was found there were close to 200 people on the second floor, said the police.

In its Facebook post, the cafe acknowledged that overcrowding and noise issues must be managed, and it would take responsibility for the oversight.

"We are engaging with our landlord to install soundproof doors and windows on the premises and to explore with the building authorities on the possibility of adding an external staircase to the building.

"We hope that the authorities will grant us the necessary time to put all possible further measures in place to manage the overcrowding and noise issues."

Since news broke that its public entertainment licence would be cancelled, local celebrities have rallied around the cafe. The venue is a longstanding proving ground for musicians, comedians and spoken word artists.

An online petition to the PEAB (www.gopetition.com/petitions/let-the-music-live-on-at-blu-jaz.html) had over 4,700 signatures as of 4pm yesterday.

The National Arts Council had earlier said it was "ready to help facilitate conversations, where necessary".

"We are very thankful for all the strong support from our music friends and family, the petitioners, and all those who worked around the clock to save us from extinction," said Blu Jaz's Facebook post.

"We truly hope PEAB will eventually grant us the licence to keep the music going at Blu Jaz Cafe."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2018, with the headline 'Blu Jaz Cafe licensed to play on - for now at least'. Print Edition | Subscribe