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Venue Lab, Broadwick Live talk “disrupting” London venues

Magazine London, a brand-new, multi-use venue in North Greenwich, opened its doors last week, as the latest event space in the fast-growing portfolio of Printworks operators, Venue Lab and Broadwick Live.

Venue Lab’s and Broadwick Live’s first purpose-built destination features a 3,000-capacity indoor, industrial-style space, adaptable to cater for live shows, corporate dinners or conferences. A mezzanine floor and terrace form a “ready-made” VIP area and outside, a 7,000-capacity showground offers a versatile space for brand activations with views across the river to Canary Wharf.

“We wanted to take all the difficult aspects of putting on an event and find solutions in advance,” Venue Lab chief executive Simon Tracey tells IQ. “The idea is to be really versatile, so this can be the right space for any kind of event, on any day of the week.”

Venue Lab is a Vibration Group company, a collective of creative event businesses, specialising in venue management and ownership, production services and event brands. This allows the Venue Lab team to plug their own services into the venues they operate, meaning everything from set design to production to staffing is done “in house”.

Broadwick Live, operator of venues the Drumsheds, Exhibition London and Depot at Mayfield and promoter of festivals such as Snowbombing and Field Day, acts as Venue Lab’s “ticketed culture partner”.

Venue Lab started working with Broadwick Live for the programming of London event space, Printworks. The phone rang “off the hook” with promoters wanting to use the space once Venue Lab took it over, says Tracey, but the team wanted to manage it “properly”, avoid negative impact on the surrounding area and ensure they could rely on those they worked with.

“We wanted to take all the difficult aspects of putting on an event and find solutions in advance”

“We could have booked content from lots of different promoters but we wanted to have more control over what happened at the venue,” explains Tracey. “If someone comes to a ticketed event and doesn’t enjoy it, they immediately think it’s the venue’s fault. We wanted to make sure that every experience someone has in one of our venues is a good one.”

Broadwick Live’s background in destination-based, immersive festivals, such as Snowbombing in the Alps and Festival No.6 in Portmeirion, Wales, made them the perfect fit for Venue Lab. “They’re about more than just a stage in a field,” says Tracey, “they excel in creating interesting experiences, so culturally it was inevitable we’d work well together.”

The content at Printworks is not all wholly owned by Broadwick Live, adds Tracey. “Broadwick Live works with lots of different promoters, but they manage the overall programming and operations, so we know they will always deliver.”

The success of Printworks, which has become a “phenomenon” since opening in 2017, has led to the development of a “brilliant” collaborative relationship between both Venue Lab and Broadwick Live. “Collectively, we can do it all,” says Tracey, “and that makes us really unique.”

Another aspect that allows both Venue Lab and Broadwick Live to stand out from the crowd is the companys’ aim to build “brands” or “spaces” rather than venues, creating something more special than “just another nameless box”.

Tracey points to their current portfolio of spaces – such as disused train station Depot at Mayfield, former printing press Printworks, old gasworks The Drumsheds or more traditional corporate venues Landing Forty Two and grade II-listed The Pumping House – stating they are all “very different from a branding perspective”.

“I genuinely believe there’s a lot more capacity in London for all sorts of venues”

Situated in plain sight of AEG’s O2 Arena and sharing the same underground station, has the creation of Magazine London not led to tension, with worries over competition and accessibility for fans?

On the contrary, says the Magazine team, we are “good neighbours” with the O2 and meet regularly.

“They know we are not running the same kind of venue as them, the only challenge is transport but we have meetings to plan for this and have developed a really coordinated approach,” says Tracey.

In other areas, people would be “more protective” about the space, comments Tracey, but one of the benefits of being part of the Greenwich Peninsular development is that it brings everyone together and diffuses this, with businesses forming partnerships to make the Peninsular as desirable a destination as possible.

Even the impending creation of the 21,500-capacity MSG Sphere, which has caused tension with AEG, does not faze the Magazine team.

“I genuinely believe there’s a lot more capacity in London for all sorts of venues,” says Tracey in reference to a possible saturation of the market. “It’s such a multicultural city and London is actually quite behind in terms of event spaces.”

“People are craving experiences, and as they do, there’s ever more evolution of what that experience is”

Following the success of Printworks, Venue Lab and Broadwick Live have launched three new venues this year – Magazine London, the Drumsheds and Exhibition London, which opens in November – and plans to work collaboratively in opening three to five more venues each year, “for the next three years”, in London, other major UK cities, and across Europe.

Although the old-school nightclub is becoming more challenging and it is getting harder for festivals to “make it work”, the demand for venues that offer interesting experiences to fans and a versatile space to organisers is far from satisfied.

“People are craving experiences, and as they do, there’s ever more evolution of what that experience is,” states Tracey. “Events are getting bigger, better and more immersive – everyone is raising their game.”

Magazine London has already attracted a wide variety of public and private events ahead of 2020. From brand events, awards dinners, conferences, exhibitions, fashion, the arts and ticketed culture; there are 22 events confirmed between September 2019 and the end of the year.

Upcoming events include sold-out Michael Bibi Presents Isolate, World Travel Market’s International Travel and Tourism Awards and Stylist Live LUXE. The venue hosted Desperados’ ‘Epic House Party’ last weekend (Saturday 7 September), in which 3,000 attendees crossed its threshold to mark Magazine London’s official opening.


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Broadwick announces new 10,000-cap. Manchester venue

Broadwick Venues has unveiled plans for a new 10,000-capacity venue on the site of a derelict former railway station in Manchester, UK.

Depot – described as a “performance, community and studio space” – will launch at the former Manchester Mayfield station, which closed in 1986, this summer, hosting the Manchester Pride Live event on 24 and 25 August. The venue is expected to be in use for the next five years while the 30-acre Mayfield site undergoes over £1 billion worth of regeneration.

The team behind the new venture say they expect to attract “globally significant performers” to Manchester “with a diverse programme of cultural activities and artists” at Depot. A proportion of tickets to all events at the new venue will be sold at discounted prices for residents, students, children, pensioners and wheelchair users and their companions.

Alongside the proposed main performance space at Depot, there will be two smaller areas. One, Concourse, will host a range of free-to-attend community events, seasonal activities and food experiences, while Archive will offer a smaller performance area and a low-cost rehearsal and studio space for local artists.

Depot Mayfield will be the fourth venue operated by Broadwick Venues, the venues arm of leading festival promoter Broadwick Live, alongside the Printworks London space in Canada Water, the newly opened Drumsheds in Enfield (which hosted the 2019 edition of Field Day) and Exhibition in Shepherd’s Bush, set to open near the Westfield shopping centre later this year.

Broadwick Live broke with long-time majority shareholder Global in April, taking festivals including Field Day, Snowbombing and Festival №6.

“We plan to create some amazing experiences in this new space”

Broadwick will run Depot alongside Vibration Group, its partner on the other venues, and the Mayfield Partnership (comprising Manchester City Council, Transport for Greater Manchester, London & Continental Railways and property developer U+I).

Richard Upton, chief development officer at U+I, says: “We want to add something to the Mancunian cultural landscape which is unique not just in the city, but in the UK.

“Depot will be a place that blends the global with the local and where international stars and local school children will be able access the same quality of performance and studio space. It will be democratic and distinctive.”

In addition to Manchester Pride, a “a string of high-profile contemporary music shows” are set to be announced in the coming weeks, says Broadwick.

“The new performance spaces as part of the Mayfield regeneration are a huge opportunity to welcome the city of Manchester to see Mayfield Depot,” says Broadwick Venues director Bradley Thomson. “Using arts programming and cultural happenings, we plan to create some amazing experiences in this new space.”

Greater Manchester, an urban area of nearly three million people, is currently unserved by entertainment venues the size of Depot, which will slot in between the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena and 3,500-cap. venues Victoria Warehouse and Manchester Apollo.


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Drumsheds, Exhibition London for hire with Venue Lab

Broadwick Venues, the venue arm of festival promoter Broadwick Live, has appointed Venue Lab to manage all venue hire for new event spaces the Drumsheds and Exhibition London.

The venue operator has announced the partnership on the back of a successful collaboration with Venue Lab at popular London venue Printworks. The company will manage corporate, brand and filming bookings and will be solely responsible for all venue hire management for the new event spaces.

Venue Lab is a Vibration Group company and the creator of event spaces including Printworks London (6,000-cap.), Landing Forty Two and The Pumping House, Dock X London, Thirty Eight Grosvenor Square and the recently launched Magazine London (3,000-cap.).

“Following our very successful partnership at Printworks London, Venue Lab is the natural choice to help us develop the Drumsheds and Exhibition London as new cultural spaces for the city,” comments Broadwick Venues managing director Bradley Thompson.

Announced earlier this month, the Drumsheds is a ten-acre outdoor events space with four giant interlinking warehouses, offering a total indoor capacity of 10,000. The venue hosts its inaugural event on 7 June, with the first of Broadwick Live’s weekend-long Field Day festival.

“Venue Lab is the natural choice to help us develop the Drumsheds and Exhibition London as new cultural spaces for the city”

Field Day is one of several festivals suspected to remain under Broadwick Live’s control, following the takeover of the festival arm of its former owner, Global, by Providence-Equity backed Superstruct Entertainment. Broadwick is believed to be undertaking a management buyback of its shares from Global.

Scheduled to open at the end of 2019, Exhibition London will transform a Victorian Grade II Dimco East building in Shepherd’s Bush – originally used as an electricity generating station for the London Underground – into a multi-purpose music and events venues with a standing capacity of 1,400.

Spanning two floors, the 34,000sqft venue is currently taking bookings for events taking place from January 2020.

“We are very excited to be partnering with Broadwick Venues and further expanding our portfolio,” says Venue Lab’s director of venues, Claire Pastore.

“Venue Lab has a proven track record of finding, activating and delivering thought-provoking spaces both commercially and to create destinations,” adds Pastore.

Superstruct, Broadwick divvy up Global festival portfolio



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Broadwick unveils 10ac London events site, the Drumsheds

On the back of its successful Printworks London venue, and ahead of the late-2019 opening of Exhibition in Shepherd’s Bush, Broadwick Venues has announced the Drumsheds, a ten-acre events space set to launch in north London this June.

Located at Meridian Water in Enfield, near the Tottenham Marshes, the multi-purpose venue’s first event will be the 2019 edition of Field Day festival, with an “electrifying schedule of events” planned for later in the year, according to Broadwick.

Situated on the site of a former BOC gasworks, in close proximity to the soon-to-open Meridian Water railway station, the Drumsheds comprises a 10ac outdoor festival site and four huge, interlinked warehouses with an indoor capacity of 10,000 – and is located away from residential areas, enabling events to run later than at many competing venues. Along with the new station, it forms part of the £6 billion Meridian Water regeneration project, which aims to transform the former industrial site.

The Drumsheds’ location, combined with its transport links and huge capacity (the Drumsheds will be London’s largest Warehouse venue), creates what Broadwick – the venue arm of Global-owned festival promoter Broadwick Live – calls a “game-changing prospect for London’s vibrant culture” that offers “an experience to rival Europe’s most revered music arenas”.

“The Drumsheds is Broadwick Venues’ most ambitious project to date”

Bradley Thompson, managing director of Broadwick Venues, comments: “The Drumsheds is Broadwick Venues’ most ambitious project to date and a huge boost for the capital: multiple warehouse spaces, the largest of which has 10,000-plus capacity, along with a ten-acre outdoor festival space, complete with a late night licence [is] unprecedented in London.

“It epitomises both Broadwick Venues’ dedication to quality, innovation and creativity, and Meridian Water’s commitment to be a true 24-hour destination. We’re confident that people will be as blown away by it as we are.”

“I’m delighted that the Drumsheds is the latest venue to open in our capital and proud that it shows Enfield’s commitment to delivering the mayor’s 24-hour vision for London,” adds Amy Lamé, London’s night czar.

“London has the most diverse nighttime culture in the world, and this innovative new event space, at the heart of a major regeneration project, will be a great addition to our wide range of entertainment venues.”


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