Tall Ship Asking for Annual Entertainment License

Michael Coughlin Jr.

During the Jeffries Point Neighborhood Association’s (JPNA) monthly meeting on Monday, Jan. 9, representatives of The Tall Ship Boston went before residents to present their plan to obtain an annual entertainment license.

As it stands today, the Tall Ship has been operating under a series of one-day entertainment licenses, encompassing both its non-live and live entertainment. This means that the Tall Ship has to have programming signed off by the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services, the Police Captain, and the Mayor’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Licensing on a week-to-week basis.

Now, the Tall Ship is seeking to simplify that process via the annual entertainment license, which representatives emphasized is merely administrative and would not affect operations.

“We’re not looking to change anything that we do at this space; there are absolutely no operational changes proposed. This is simply an attempt to codify our existing entertainment programming,” said Attorney Lesley Delaney Hawkins.

“This is strictly to change the way our paper trail is for applying for licenses and is something that is going to streamline it and make it a little easier,” said Navy Yard Hospitality Group’s Charlie Larner.

While obtaining one-day licenses when the Tall Ship experience began seemed to make sense according to Hawkins, now that there is certainty regarding the Tall Ship’s future in the area, representatives say there is some support to go for an annual license.

“Given the fact that we have now entered into a longer-term license agreement with Massport, the city as well as some of the elected officials and our neighbors have asked us to actually obtain an annual entertainment license,” said Hawkins.

Not only would a potential annual license allow the Tall Ship to forgo constant applications, but Hawkins also suggested that it would yield more predictability in terms of entertainment for staff, the city, and the neighborhood.

Although the Tall Ship’s proposal, which representatives explained, has nothing to do with operations in terms of programming, many residents used the public comment period to comment on the establishment’s operations. 

Residents offered feedback about providing more parking, offering more family-friendly events, and more. Questions and feedback regarding the license itself were also addressed.

One resident was concerned that supporting an annual license would not give the neighborhood as much of a voice if issues with the Tall Ship occurred. However, Hawkins contends that is not the case.

“I would actually say its the opposite because it would be an annual license that’s renewed each year … but just like any other license – this goes back to the comment about contacting the licensing board and the police department – again, the license is a privilege,” said Hawkins.

“If there is a bad actor exercising it – and we really don’t believe we are a bad actor – the license can be suspended at any time.”

Additionally, Larner was asked about the change in operating cost from a day license to an annual one. He explained that operating on an annual license costs less but only minimally.

Residents also voiced concerns about the Tall Ship’s commitment to not adding programming, but Larner reinforced that commitment saying, “Yes, we don’t want anymore. The answer is you will not see an influx of events.”

Finally, some pondered what would happen to the Tall Ship if the annual license were not approved, and Larner explained that it would pretty much be business as usual.

“Nothing will change. It [the Tall Ship] will still be operating, it would still have live events. When we do our events, we will be applying with a specific application for the one-day entertainment license for the dates,” said Larner.

Monday’s meeting marks the first of two Tall Ship appearances at the JPNA, with the next scheduled in February to continue the licensure process for an eventual vote.

“We are continually looking forward to working with the neighborhood, making everybody happy; that’s our number one priority,” said Larner.

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