STEAM museum to host Swindon’s first-ever tattoo convention in June

Some of the best tattoo artists in the country will be able to come to Swindon for a convention after councilors have changed the local authority’s licensing policy.

And the venue and date for the borough’s first tattoo convention is already being inked in.

Gary Watts is the proprietor of Black Heart Ink Tattoo Studio, located on Bridge Street. He also manages an event-management company.

He has been in discussions with Swindon Borough Council about holding a convention – but it became apparent that the licensing conditions were prohibitive.

The council’s licensing manager Kathryn Ashton told councillors on the licensing committee: “We are quite strict on tattooists and body piercers here.

“The normal fee for a licence in Swindon is £218 – that’s a prohibitive cost for a tattoo artist who wants to come here to a convention for a day to show off their work and maybe take some walk-in customers.”

Ms Ashton put to the committee a proposal to allow temporary licenses: “They will only be issued to practitioners who have a license from another authority.”

The licenses which would allow someone with a licence from elsewhere to practice for a maximum of five days per year in Swindon and will cost £26.

Any venue hosting such a convention will also have to be granted a temporary licence for £300.

Ms. Ashton told councilors that Mr. Watts, who had been pushing for a town convention, will be responsible to administer the licensing of visiting artists. This is contrary to the current practice of having 80 tattooists apply for licensing and pay officers. The organizer would be responsible for the future policy.

Chairman of the committee Vinay Manro said: “I’m glad to hear that, I was concerned about the burden on officers of trying to handle a lot of separate applications.”

The Councillors unanimously approved the change to policy. Coun Dan Adams said: “I don’t have any skin in this game, not having a tattoo, yet. But I think this is a fantastic idea and I’m surprised it’s not already a thing- but where we are and that’s good.”

M. Watts was just as happy. He said: “It’s been a long haul – it’s taken nearly a year to get this far.

“But conventions are really popular all over the country, the nearest we have is Oxford or Newbury. Newbury just had its first and it went really well.”

Mr. Watts claims that he was successful in obtaining an agreement from Steam Museum to hold the convention in June. The dates of the convention will be announced very soon.

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