Municipal regulations adapt to small-format live music

The full council has approved the creation of a new category of recreational activity enabling bars, cafeterias and restaurants to offer small-format cultural activities, such as live music or performing arts. The new Cultura Viva venues recognise the cultural value of these creative activities, at the same time respecting local residents.

03/05/2019 18:04 h

Ajuntament de Barcelona

The modification to the municipal by-law for activities in establishments open to the public addresses a long-standing need to regulate small-format cultural activities, which up until 2016 were conducted outside established legal frameworks.

The new category of Cultura Viva venues recognises the value of live music and role of local culture in small format. It also organises the corresponding regulatory framework and paves the way for new strategies to promote such activity in a way which is compatible with local residents.

Cultura Viva venues

The characteristics for the new category are:

  • Definition of the venue: small-format local venues with a regular programme linked to live music, the performing arts or any other form of contemporary art and popular culture.
  • Small format: establishments with a capacity of no more than 150 people.
  • Proximity: public or private facilities which promote interaction with different institutions, entities and collectives with the goal of decentralised cultural participation around the city, and which promote creative and artistic processes with the audience in close quarters.
  • Social role: capacity to generate suitable contexts for social cohesion and citizen participation through culture, taking into account diversity and the gender perspective. To demonstrate their local and social function, projects will need to include a document (contract or agreement) showing their collaboration with at least two associations of different natures in Barcelona.
  • Programme: minimum of forty activities per calendar year.

Establishments presenting live music projects will have to choose one of the following three sub-categories and adapt accordingly to the general by-law on the urban environment in Barcelona (OMA) and the municipal by-law on activities and comprehensive intervention by the environmental administration of Barcelona (OMAIA).

  • Cultura Viva venue type A or for amplified music, for establishments reproducing music using amplifiers with an output no greater than 105 dB(A).
  • Cultura Viva venue type B or for semi-amplified music, with small amplification systems with an output no greater than 94 dB(A).
  • Cultura Viva venue type C or for acoustic or non-amplified music, reproduced without any sort of electronic amplification.

The requirements for the three sub-categories can be found here.

Background of the small-format live music sector in Barcelona

A circular making it easier to offer amplified live music in venues with licences as bars, cafeterias and restaurants was published in 2016. Prior to that, live music was restricted to concert halls and music bars. Based on the circular, work began to put together a new measure, with all municipal groups involved, plugging the regulatory gap and recognising and promoting small-format cultural activities.

The plan included a study of the live music sector in Barcelona by the journalist Olga Ábalos. The study identified the need to create an intermediate category between amplified music and acoustic music. It also recommended calculating a limited capacity according to use instead of the type of licence, helping towards the economic sustainability for establishments and in all cases in keeping with technical criteria guaranteeing safety.


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