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John Bacon of the Morris Federation and Cliff Marchant of the Morris Ring, had a meeting on the 7th October 2003 with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to discuss the Statutory Guidelines for the new English Licensing Act 2003. At that meeting they proposed that mumming should be exempt from licencing under the Act, in addition to Morris Dancing (which is already exempt). They pointed out that many Morris teams perform folk plays during the Christmas period, and mumming often forms part of a Morris show (and vice versa). John and Cliff similarly recommended that any associated music sessions should also be exempt.

They received a favourable response, although the guidelines have to be reviewed by the Secretary of State, and then approved by Parliament, after which there is a six-month period before a nine-month transition period starts. We will therefore have to wait and see if the amendments get through.

We are sure that all folk play performers and afficionados will join us in thanking John and Cliff for their efforts on our behalf. More information and ongoing progress reports may be found at the Morris Ring web site

To judge from the number of performances notified for this website's Events List, the Licencing Act controversy had no adverse affects on the Winter 2003/04 folk play season. Those groups who informed us that they had decided not to perform this year all reported mundane organisational reasons rather than fear of the force of law.