Last Friday, February 22, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) heard testimony over new measures that would give music venues greater flexibility in allowing minors to attend events where alcohol is served.
Currently, Oregon bars and clubs are prohibited from serving beer or alcohol at all-ages music shows. In December, the committee voted 3-2 against an earlier version of the amendment, saying it was too vague and didn't provide a specific enough means of controlling alcohol distribution. Since then, OLCC staff drafted a proposal with more specific plans as to how venue owners would prevent underage patrons from obtaining alcoholic beverages. Whether it's wristbands, hand markings, or special minor-designated areas, the new revisions provide written guidelines for drinking-control mechanisms.
In addition to an OLCC staff representative, several people testified in support of the amendment. They argued that it was beneficial for everyone—young people, local bands, bar and club owners—to allow minors greater access to the arts. Supporters claimed Portland was one of the only major cities in the country that didn't allow for "mixed-age" music shows.
Cary Clarke of PDX Pop Now! (and a Mercury music columnist ["OLCC Redux," Music, Feb 14]) spoke passionately about the proposal's benefit to young people, saying the opportunity to attend more shows is vitally important to their personal and artistic growth.
"The exposure to local arts at a young age—in particular the local music scene—has changed the lives of so many people I know for the better," he said. "It's doing young people a real disservice by limiting their ability to see these shows."
Christie Scott, public affairs specialist for the OLCC, emphasized that the adoption of the new measures would ultimately be at the discretion of venue owners.
"It would merely give them the option, not to mention the guidelines, for mixed-age events," she said. "If owners were not enforcing their control plans, and they were in violation, then the state could take away the right to allow minors onto the premises."
No one spoke in opposition to the new measures, and the OLCC says it has received 27 emails in support. The OLCC board will vote in April.