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The 100% Club: London venue gets full biz rates relief

Iconic London music venue the 100 Club has become the first venue in the country to receive full business rates relief, under a new scheme to protect grassroots venues, put forward by Westminster City Council.

The 100% relief from business rates – the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – will save the 100 Club over £70,000 a year, according to charity the Music Venue Trust, after the measures come into place on 1 April 2020.

The move helps to secure the future of the venue, which has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Oasis, the Sex Pistols and Louis Armstrong since opening in 1942.

The 100 Club has been on the brink of closure at least three times in the past decade, saved by efforts from Westminster Council, Paul McCartney, Converse, Fred Perry and MVT.

Under the plans, music venues in Westminster are eligible for full relief if they are primarily a grassroots music venue and appear on the Greater London Authority’s register as such; the organisation running the venue is not for profit; and the venue is the borough of Westminster, preferably in the area of Soho.

“This is a game-changing approach from a local authority in supporting grassroots music venues”

The news comes as the UK live music industry celebrates the government’s decision to cut business rates in half for all eligible small- and mid-sized grassroots venues, announced earlier this week. Venues had previously remained exempt from the rates relief granted to other small retailers, such as bars and restaurants.

“I’m thrilled the 100 Club has been granted this new business rates relief. It means we can continue to support the careers of the hundreds of artists who take to our stage each year,” comments venue owner Jeff Horton.

“This is a game-changing approach from a local authority in supporting grassroots music venues. I hope that other local authorities will adopt a similar forward thinking approach to support the music industry.”

“Grassroots music venues play a key role in London’s thriving nightlife,” says London’s night czar Amy Lamé. “That is why we’ve worked closely with The 100 Club and Westminster City Council to secure its future.”

The night czar, who was appointed in 2016 to protect London’s nightlife, adds that the news serves “as a great example of what can be done to support venues in our city.”

 


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MVT launches advisory books for grassroots venues

At an event at City Hall in London last night (15 July), Music Venue Trust (MVT) launched two new books which offer practical advice to the grassroots venues sector.

The illustrated, open-source books, commissioned by MVT and produced by writer David Pollock and photographer Jannica Honey, aim to draw on the association’s work over the past five years to offer assistance to those wishing to open a new venue (How to Open a Grassroots Music Venue) and those already running one (How to Run a Grassroots Music Venue).

According to Mark Davyd, CEO of the UK charity – founded in 2014 to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues – each book contains 15 chapters of information covering topics including licensing, company structure, what facilities need to be provided, and ideas for diversifying what venues offer, as well as interviews with venue managers and case studies.

A guidance section at the back of the books is complemented by cross-referencing with online resources on the MVT website (musicvenuetrust.com/resources), which will be updated regularly.

“We want these books to inspire people to join us and open their own venues”

As well as a limited print run, both books are available as downloadable PDFs from both MVT’s and the Mayor of London’s websites.

“When I was 17, I put on my first gig, and over the next ten years I met lots of other like-minded people who wanted to do the same,” explains Davyd. “Eventually, after five years of trying, we got together and opened our own venue. Nobody ever gave us advice, and we must have made every mistake possible. Most people I know in the grassroots music sector have a similar story, which is why we wanted to publish these guides.

“We want these books to inspire people to join us and open their own venues, and the message is simple: you can build a stage the band doesn’t fall through, you can get a licence that doesn’t prevent you from opening on a Wednesday, and you can avoid having to rebuild the venue from scratch, only this time with enough doors.”

Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, says: “Developing the next generation of talent is hugely important to us; grassroots music venues are an essential part of an artist’s career and a vital cog in the music industry machine. We have worked with MVT since 2015 and know the struggles that these venues face. These guides are another important step to keep music playing in grassroots venues across the UK.”

Rou Reynolds addresses MVT book launch

Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds, an MVT patron (pictured speaking at the launch), adds: “Grassroots music venues are vital spaces for musicians, music fans and communities in general. It’s been a tough time for venues up and down the country over the past few years and there’s been no government support.

“It’s great that MVT has launched these new books, sharing the knowledge and experience of those who run the venues that are surviving and shining a spotlight on the touring circuit.

“I think it could help encourage the opening of new venues and support networks.”

Music Venue Trust says it’s looking into the possibility of further development of these guides. Anyone interested in being involved should email info@musicvenuetrust.com.

 


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Hackney curfew: ‘marginalised communities will suffer most’

Campaigners protesting the controversial new Hackney curfew legislation have spoken about how the policy will potentially affect marginalised communities the most. Speaking at Friday’s protest (27 July), a number of protesters spoke to local media, saying LGBTQ, BME and women-friendly music venues are at the biggest risk of disappearance because of the new nightlife legislation.

Speaking to the Hackney Citizenprotest co-organiser Jo Alloway said: “Hackney is renowned for its diversity and its nightlife – it’s something people specifically come to Hackney for.

“Each venue is a hub of community, whether that’s LGBTQ nightlife, Caribbean nightlife – it’s a safe space where people can enjoy their own culture.”

As Johnny Dillon, another co-organiser of the protest, explains, the fear is that as ‘minority-friendly’ clubs and venues close, new ones won’t be able to open and replace them. Instead, corporate brands and chains will take their place, without thought for the cultural spaces being lost. Talking to NME, Dillon warned against places like Shoreditch turning into Leicester Square.

“We’re seeing pubs and clubs – for the LGBTQ community, and the BME community, and spaces for women – close all the time,” he says. “I think that is really being put at risk by the proposal that Hackney Council have just passed.”

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”

“Hackney is one of the few places where those still exist in number. If those spaces are to start to close, new ones aren’t going to open.”

After the news of the Hackney curfew broke, London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé came under fire for appearing not to fight against the plans. Many questioned what the role of Night Czar was for, if not to protest against potentially damaging legislation such as this.

In a statement released shortly after the initial backlash, before the protests took place, she explained her intention to get all parties involved around a table to talk out the problems with the new policies; she has demanded an urgent meeting with the mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville. In the statement, she does not address how the policy may affect the lives of residents from minority backgrounds.

“I’m sure there is a positive way forward,” it reads. “My role is to help get everyone to sit around the table, talking together, to represent the needs of the night-time economy in those conversations, and ultimately to find a solution that works for everyone.

“I’ve used this convening power on a number of different issues…and it really can work.”

Whilst many protesters agree the Night Czar has dropped the ball somewhat in her response to the curfew legislation, Dillon maintains it isn’t solely her that should be held responsible for the decision.

“It’s the council and the licensing committee that have pushed this through.”

 


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Hackney Council votes to impose midnight curfew on new venues

The London Borough of Hackney’s council has this week unanimously approved controversial licensing policies that impose a weekend midnight curfew on new venues in the area. The decision goes against the council’s own poll of residents, in which some 73% voted against the measures.

New venues that wish to get around the curfew and prolong their hours will need to be able to prove to authorities that doing so will not provoke antisocial behaviour. Critics of the policy have already commented on the difficulty of this task.

Councillor Emma Plouviez, part of the team that drafted the policy, has defended the council’s actions to Resident Advisor. She says: “The onus will be on new applicants to demonstrate they are responsible, understand the pressures on the area and that their business will not have a negative impact on the area if they want to open late.

“We will help and support them to do that.”

The decision goes against the council’s own poll of residents, in which some 73% voted against the measures.

Despite her defence, many media, residents and local venue owners are still unhappy with the decision. In particular, critics are calling out London’s night czar Amy Lamé, who along with Mayor Sadiq Khan, is said to have been discussing the move for the past year. Responding, the NME published a somewhat scathing article on the decline of London’s nightlife during Lamé’s tenure.

Defending her role, the night czar tweeted that licensing decisions were not her responsibility.

Beyond the midnight curfew, the Special Policy Area (SPA) in Shoreditch, which is already home to well known music venues the Old Blue Last and Village Underground, is set to expand. For many, this means new venues will find it difficult to open in the first place. The news has lead local campaign group We Love Hackney to label the new policies “some of the toughest restrictions on nightlife in Britain” and a “gift to big corporates.”

Since facing criticism, Lamé has announced she has requested an urgent meeting with the council to discuss the way forward for nightlife in the borough.

 


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‘This will help London thrive’: Met axes form 696

London’s Metropolitan police is to abolish form 696, the controversial risk-assessment document critics claim discriminates against grime and other predominantly black music, in a move welcomed by mayor Sadiq Khan.

Following a review process, which included consultations with local authorities, venues, the Musicians’ Union, London Promoter Forum and the Institute of Licensing, the Met announced today it is to abolish the form – which it acknowledged was perceived to “disproportionately affect” certain genres of music – in favour of a “new voluntary partnership approach” with venues and promoters in the city.

Form 696, introduced in 2005 in response to a number of shootings at club nights across London, requires potential licensees to list performers’ and promoters’ names, addresses and phone numbers, the style of music to be performed and the event’s target audience. It is the requests for information on genre and audience that are particularly controversial, with critics accusing the police of racial profiling by singling out primarily black musical styles such as grime, garage and bashment.

Ticketmaster’s latest State of Play report, which focuses on grime, revealed more than half the British general public believes the form to be discriminatory.

Half of UK population say form 696 is discriminatory

“It is clear that in recent years the landscape of the night time economy in London has changed, and thankfully we have seen a reduction in serious incidents at promoted music events, particularly those involving firearms,” says Met superintendent Roy Smith. “We have also been working in close partnership with the music industry and others to raise standards of safety in venues and at events.

“We have taken the decision to remove form 696 and instead develop a new voluntary partnership approach for venues and promoters across London. This will provide an excellent opportunity to share information at a local level and work to identify any enhanced risk to ensure the safety of the public.”

“This decision will … ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres”

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan – a notable critic of form 696 – adds: “Developing a night-time economy that works for everyone is a key priority of mine, but it’s also vital that live music events in London take place safely. I called for a review of form 696 earlier this year because of concerns raised by promoters and artists in the capital that this process was unfairly affecting specific communities and music genres. […]

“This decision will help London’s night-time economy thrive, ensure the capital is a welcoming place for artists and DJs of all music genres and that Londoners are able to enjoy live music safely.”

He also praised the work of night czar Amy Lamé in securing the form’s repeal, saying that, “by bringing together the Met and representatives from across the city’s legendary grassroots music industry, we have shown why having a night czar is so important for London”.

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry”

Industry umbrella group UK Music also welcomed the decision to scrap form 696, with chief executive Michael Dugher commenting: “This is fantastic news. UK Music has campaigned to get rid of this unpopular restriction on our diverse and vibrant music scene.”

“It’s great that mayor of London Sadiq Khan and London’s night czar, Amy Lamé, have listened to the concerns of the music industry.” 

“We thank him for showing leadership on this important issue and ensuring that the London remains a world beater when it comes to our cultural music mix.”

 


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“Incredible” London is Europe’s live music capital

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has hailed the UK capital’s “world-class arenas” and “amazing grassroots music venues”, as it emerges London hosted the most concerts of any city in Europe last year – a feat it is on course to repeat in 2017.

There were 19,940 total live music events in London in 2016 – more than San Francisco (13,672), Paris (11,248) and Chicago (11,224), as well as the self-described ‘live music capital of the world’, Austin, Texas (6,781).

The city is also in third place globally, behind first-placed New York, with 28,529 shows in 2016, and runner-up Los Angeles, which just pipped London to second place with 20,843 events, according to data shared with IQ by Songkick.

The concert-discovery platform, recently acquired by Warner Music Group, analysed concert data from 12 major music cities for the study, which additionally found London had the second most venues (1,780), behind only Los Angeles (2,002), and that Austin – the home of South by Southwest – had, unsurprisingly, the most shows in one day (278, compared to London’s 125, LA’s 120, New York’s 144 and Chicago’s 73).

The figures from Songkick come after a strong showing for London in UK Music’s latest Wish You Were Here report, which found money generated by live music in the the capital exceeded the £1 billion mark for the first time, increasing 6% on 2015, bolstered by an increase in music tourism and new additions to the festival calendar.

“It’s fantastic to see London ranking so highly for live music and for grassroots music venues”

“London’s buzzing live music scene is world renowned, having produced artists from Adele to Ed Sheeran, the Clash and the Rolling Stones,” Khan tells IQ. “I’ve made growing London’s culture and creative industries a core priority, and music is a huge part of this. That’s why I appointed night czar Amy Lamé to act as a champion for venues and the night-time economy to ensure we strengthen our reputation as a powerhouse for music.

“In London, we have some of the greatest places to catch a live gig – from world-class arenas to amazing grassroots music venues – and it is little wonder that music lovers come from across the globe to enjoy our city’s incredible nightlife.”

In full, the 2016 top 12 are: New York (28,529), Los Angeles (20,843), London (19,940), the San Francisco Bay area (13,672), Paris (11,248), Chicago (11,224), Philadelphia (8,691), Las Vegas (8,023), Denver (7,343), Washington, DC (7,219), Seattle (6,893) and Austin (6,781).

Looking ahead to 2017, London retains its third place globally, with 11,747 total events as of 8 August – again, behind New York and Los Angeles. Paris, however, slips down to sixth, with Chicago taking its place.

“In London, we have some of the greatest places to catch a live gig”

Like Khan, Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd welcomes the findings – although he cautions that the work needed to reverse London’s well-publicised decline in venue numbers is far from over.

“It’s obviously fantastic to see London still ranking so highly for live music and for grassroots music venues,” he comments. “There’s a really feeling that City Hall understands these venues and wants to help support them, and the work already being done is showing some results – 2016–17 was the first year in ten years that London didn’t suffer a net loss of grassroots music venues.

“But there’s a lot more to be done. Cities across the world are recognising grassroots music venues as a good investment opportunity, creating pipelines of new talent and local jobs. Sydney just announced investment into grassroots music venues infrastructure, following Berlin, Amsterdam and other leading world cities in recognising that fantastic new artists deserve incredible places to play and audiences deserve to be able to see and hear artists in the very best quality settings. Music Venue Trust believes London can do the same; there’s a Good Growth fund, so let’s use it to really support grassroots culture.”

With thanks to Songkick and James Drury.

 


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Rock’n’roll all night

I don’t think anyone has ever said, “When I grow up, I want to be a night czar.”

In fact, to my knowledge, no one has ever graduated with a degree in ‘night czardom’! However, night czars or ‘night mayors’ as they are called in many other cities around the world, are becoming an increasingly essential part of what is required for a city to thrive during the night-time hours.

Last November, I was appointed London’s first-ever night czar by the mayor, Sadiq Khan. With this appointment, London became by far the biggest city in the world to appoint a night czar, following in the footsteps of Amsterdam, San Francisco and Toulouse.

So what does a night czar actually do? Well, if you take a slice of the work of every deputy mayor in the capital – transport; policing and crime; planning and regeneration; business and culture; and then think about how these areas operate during the night-time hours – then you’ve pretty much got the measure of the breadth of my work as night czar.

I’ve been at the forefront of London’s night-time economy for many years. When I moved to the UK (from the US), I worked at a late-night café bar in Soho. I’ve run my own club night, Duckie, at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern for over 21 years and have seen pretty much everything there is to see from London’s diverse nightlife.

It’s my job to ensure that London can become a truly 24-hour city and, alongside the chair of the Night Time Commission, Philip Kolvin QC, develop a vision and a roadmap of how we’re going to achieve it.

We all know about the threats to the capital’s night-time economy – new developments, rising property prices, business rate hikes and changing consumer habits all pose risks to London’s status as a 24-hour city.

Despite these difficulties, there are lots of reasons to be optimistic. London’s night-time economy contributes £26.3billion (40% of the UK’s night-time economy) and supports one in eight jobs in the capital. This is forecast to rise to £28.3bn by 2029. Recent developments like the Night Tube, now running on five lines in the capital, are boosting local night-time economies across the city and opening up new opportunities for growth.

New developments, rising property prices, business rate hikes and changing consumer habits all pose risks to London’s status as a 24-hour city

As night czar, I’m looking to maximise the potential of these exciting developments, bringing stakeholders from across the night-time industries together to shape the capital’s future as a global hotspot for nightlife.

An important part of my job is talking with Londoners about the kind of life at night they want. My ‘Night Surgeries’ are an opportunity for me to visit all areas of the city and listen to everyone’s aspirations for what a 24-hour London can look like. I’ve visited hospitals, fire stations and homeless shelters, as well as bars, restaurants and even libraries. Thankfully, Londoners are not shy in sharing their views – as I want to be sure I’m representing everyone in the capital.

Over the next few months, I’ll be looking at how we can protect London’s nightclubs, pubs, music venues and LGBT+ spaces, working with the mayor to bring in important planning legislation such as Agent of Change, which places the onus on developers that build residential properties next to music venues and nightclubs to soundproof their buildings to ensure revellers and residents can co-exist peacefully.

I’ll also be looking at how we can make women feel safer at night, and will hold London’s first-ever Women’s Safety Summit. This will be a gathering of change-makers and activists, led by London’s deputy mayors for transport, culture and policing. We’ll be looking to draft a Women’s Night Safety Charter for the capital, which will outline best practices that can be adopted by boroughs throughout the city to protect women during the night-time hours.

By using City Hall’s unique convening powers, for the first time ever, we’re able to bring developers, venue owners, business people, the Metropolitan Police, Transport for London, councillors, night-time shift workers, revellers and residents around the table to talk about what they want from the capital at night. Whether they want to party until four in the morning, get to and from work safely, or they just want a good night’s sleep – my job as night czar is to bring people together so we can strike the right balance and ensure the capital’s night-time economy and culture can become the envy of the world.

You thought that New York was the city that never sleeps? Watch out! London is coming.

 


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Number of venues in London stable in 2016

The number of grassroots music venues in London stabilised last year for the first time since 2007, with as many openings as closures, reveals a new report from the mayor’s office.

The positive figures, released today – which follow an IQ report in June that revealed an unprecedented four brand-new venues would open in London in 2016 – have been hailed by the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, as a “major step towards rebuilding London’s live music scene”.

“London’s buzzing live music scene is world-renowned, having produced artists from Adele to Ed Sheeran, The Clash to The Rolling Stones,” he comments. “Grassroots venues are the foundation of our successful music industry. We’ve taken positive steps to address some of the challenges facing grassroots music venues, but there’s still much to be done.

That’s why I’ve recently appointed night czar Amy Lamé to act as a champion for live music venues and the night-time economy, and will ensure that the agent-of-change principle” – which makes it the responsibility of developers, not venues, to put in place noise-control measures on any new residential development, as enshrined in last April’s Town and Country Planning Order 2016 and one of Khan’s key manifesto pledges – “is implemented across the capital, delivering real change for Londoners.”

“We’ve taken positive steps to address some of the challenges facing grassroots music venues, but there’s still much to be done”

The report, Rescue Plan for London’s Grassroots Music Venues: Making progress, reveals London’s grassroots venues add £91.8 million to the UK capital’s economy and support 2,260 full-time jobs.

It also outlines the actions the London Music Board – comprising key UK industry figures, including Kilimanjaro Live’s Stuart Galbraith, ATC Live’s Alex Bruford and Auro Foxcroft, chief executive of famed venue Village Underground – is taking to stimulate the building of new venues, including offering guidance to developers on how to include venues in new developments.

“Since the original Rescue Plan for Grassroots Music Venues was published, we’ve made some great progress,” says Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust. “We’ve set up the London Music Board, welcomed our newly-appointed night czar to chair the board and taken steps to implement agent of change.

“I’m looking forward to working with the mayor’s team to continue to address the challenges that grassroots music venues are facing in London, and hopefully we’ll see a return to growth in the sector which will benefit not only Londoners and local communities, but the wider music industry.”

 


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Fabric lawyer named Night Time Commission chair

Philip Kolvin QC, a licensing lawyer who represented Fabric in its successful bid to have its licence reinstated, has been appointed chairman of London’s Night Time Commission.

A statement from the office of the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, describes Kolvin (pictured) as “the UK’s top expert on licensing” and says he will work alongside newly appointed night czar Amy Lamé to “develop and implement a vision of London as a 24-hour city”.

The Night Time Commission was established in March by then-mayor Boris Johnson to investigate “what should be done to protect and manage” London’s night-time economy. Johnson said at the time that “licensing requirements and other red tape are damaging [venues’] operations, even leading to closures. If we are to compete against other world cities is vital that we develop policies to reconcile the competing needs and concerns.”

The commission was headed up initially by Munira Mirza, then the deputy mayor for education and culture. Originally scheduled to conclude in October, its work has been extended by Khan into the new year.

“Working alongside Amy Lamé, Philip’s expert knowledge in the field of licensing, regulation and policy will be crucial in ensuring our live music venues and nightclubs are protected from closure”

Speaking today, Khan said: “Our city’s flourishing nightlife attracts millions of visitors from the UK and abroad every year. However, with the loss of so many clubs and venues from around the capital, we cannot afford to be complacent. That’s why I’m delighted to appoint Philip Kolvin QC as chair of a revamped Night Time Commission.

“Working alongside my newly-appointed night czar, Amy Lamé, Philip’s expert knowledge in the field of licensing, regulation and policy will be crucial in ensuring that our live music venues and nightclubs are protected from closure and that they are recognised as a distinctive part of our cultural heritage.”

Kolvin adds: “It’s vital that we ensure that everyone benefits from a thriving night-time economy – from those who want a great night out to those who want a good night’s sleep. I look forward to working with [Lamé] so that we can develop the role of London as the global leader of the night-time economy.”

 


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