Advice and Information

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Frequently asked questions about child performance and entertainment.

What is a performance?

Certain criteria must be fulfilled for a show to be classed as a performance:

  • It is taking place on licensed premises
  • Being broadcast, filmed or recorded for public exhibition
  • In connection with which a charge is made (even if no charge is made for admission)

What is a performance licence?

A performance licence is a legal document which is issued by the Local Authority and states the specific arrangements for the child to take part in a performance.

Licences may be required for children as follows:

  • Children employed in modelling work, e.g. photographic or catwalk
  • Children working in paid/professional sport
  • Children performing on stage or in television, film, commercial etc

Who should apply for the performance licence?

The licence applicant must be someone who is responsible for the production in which the child is taking part e.g. Producer, Director etc. A child’s agent or parent cannot apply for a licence.

How do you apply for a licence?

For further information on how to apply for a licence see Applying for a Performance Licence.

Why do children have to be licensed?

The licensing of children is intended to safeguard their education, health, and welfare. The Education Investigation Service is responsible for the issuing and supervision of licences on behalf of the Local Authority (LA). Application for licences must be made to Dudley MBC for all children resident in the borough aged 0–16 years (i.e. those who have not reached the official school leaving age) for performances/activities taking place in Dudley or elsewhere.

Which legislation regulates this?

The legislation relating to the licensing of children for performances, paid modelling and sporting activities is contained in the Children and Young persons Acts 1933 and 1963 and The Children (Performances and Activities England) Regulations 2014.

When does a child need a performance licence?

A child must be licensed if they meet the following criteria:

  • If the child has performed for more than 4 days in the past 6 months
  • Being paid to take part in the performance
  • Requires absence from school to take part in the performance

Does a child need a licence to take part in a school performance?

It is unlikely, as a school performance is exempt from the performance regulations. However if you are in doubt please contact your local Child Employment Officer.

If a child performs on a school day does their school need to give permission for the absence?

The Local Authority has the overriding decision, however we do ask that permission from school has been granted and this should be obtained in writing.

How much notice is required to apply for a licence?

The law requires that a performance licence application is submitted 21 days before the first performance; however we suggest that the local Child Employment Officer is contacted as soon as possible as it may be possible to issue the licence in less than 21 days.

Are there any exemptions?

Exemptions where a licence is not required – Regulation 37(3a)

  • If a child takes part in four or less performances in any six month period (provided there is no absence from school)
  • School performances
  • Performances put on by a Body of Persons (see document at bottom of page) approved by the Secretary of State (Home Office) or the Local Authority
  • Any activity that the Local Authority does not consider to be a performance

Although a child may be exempt from requiring a licence if the exemption criteria is met, the regulations do require the licence holder to adhere to certain parts of the Regulations. Therefore, if a child performance license is not required we still request that the organiser of the performance/show notifies the Local Authority. An exemption from licensing application form is available on request at the address below or can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. The form should be sent so as to reach the licensing authority not less than twenty-one days before the first performance for which the exemption is requested.

For more information see Exemption Fact Sheet and Exemption from Licensing at the bottom of this page.

Who will look after the children taking part in a performance?

A child taking part in a performance for which they need a licence, this can include TV or filming, theatre, sporting activities or modelling, will require a Chaperone (matron) who is responsible for the welfare of young people taking part in entertainment. Parents may only chaperone their own children if they have not been approved by the local authority.

How much does a child’s performance licence cost?

No charge is made by the Local Authority for the issuing of a performance licence.

How many days can a child perform?

For more information see Table of Hours at the bottom of this page.

What happens if a child performs with out a licence?

The child may be performing illegally. If the child performs without a licence they may not be covered by the production company’s insurance and the production company is at risk of prosecution. It is an offence for any person who fails to observe any condition subject to which a licence is granted or knowingly or recklessly makes any false statement in or in connection with an application for a licence is liable to a fine not exceeding £1000 (level 3 on the standard scale) or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months or both (section 40 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1963).

What happens if a child is performing abroad?

A performance licence will still be required, but these are issued by your local Magistrates Court. For further information contact your local Magistrates Court.

Can children perform in a circus?

Yes, but a performance licence may be required and you should contact your local Child Employment Officer.

Does the legislation cover understudies etc?

Yes the legislation covers all children who perform until they complete compulsory schooling.

What happens if any of the details on the licence change? E.g. change of location

The issuing Local Authority should be notified if any amendments are made to the terms of the licence. The licence applicant is responsible for ensuring the Local Authority is notified.

What happens if a child has an accident at the place of performance?

The accident should be recorded and dealt with appropriately e.g. by the on site first aider.

Where can I get more information?

The National Network for Child Employment and Entertainment (NNCEE) offers further guidance and information about children in entertainment.

If you have any concerns relating to children in entertainment please contact your local Child Employment Officer via Dudley Council Plus.