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The MJR Group announces three new venues

The MJR Group, the UK-based promoter and venue operator/owner, has added two new clubs to its venue portfolio, as well as announced plans for a third.

The Bristol-based company has partnered with the Warehouse (600-cap.) in Leeds and Switch (1,500-cap.) in Southampton to develop and deliver their respective live events programmes and operations. Full plans for a new venue in central Birmingham, meanwhile, will be announced soon.

The Warehouse is set to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year, making it one of the oldest venues in Leeds (the building itself being nearly 200 years old). The MJR Group says it will bring live music back to the fore, building on a legacy that includes performances by U2, Oasis, Soft Cell, the Stone Roses and Pulp.

The company  will invest in production infrastructure, with plans for new staging, audio and lighting systems suitable for both touring artists and nightclub events.

Switch, a former cinema, has welcomed a string of international club and party artists, hosting the likes of DJ EZ, Paul Woolford, Andy C and, more recently, Stormzy.

“We are delighted to add these three fantastic venues as part of the strategic expansion of our live music portfolio”

It is also getting a make-over with a view to reintroducing live music events, with new staging, lighting and screens throughout.  Elswhere, an internal redesign will turn the club through 180°, adding a new VIP area, booths and making the balcony a new asset overlooking the whole venue.

Richard Buck, owner and founder of the MJR Group, comments: “We are delighted to add these three fantastic venues as part of the strategic expansion of our live music portfolio. The Warehouse will be a 600-capacity live music venue and attempt to fill the massive void left by the Cockpit’s closure a few years back.

“We are equally as excited about plans to introduce a live music programme to Switch, which will give bands a natural progression to grow audiences when they outgrow our other Southampton venue, the Engine Rooms.”

The MJR Group’s other UK venues include Tramshed (1,000-cap.) and the Globe (350-cap.) in Cardiff, the Mill (1,000-cap.) and Digbeth Arena (3,500-cap.) in Birmingham, Sub 89 (600-cap.) in Reading and Plug (1,600-cap.) in Sheffield.

 


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Birmingham venue The Mill to open this month

MJR Group’s newest project, the 1,000-capacity multi-purpose venue The Mill, will open later this month on 28 September in Birmingham, UK. The new venue will be the second opening in the area for the promoter/venue operator, which last month reopened the former Rainbow Arena under its new Digbeth Arena alias.

Located against the area’s Victorian railway arches, the former warehouse space plays host to two rooms, a split mezzanine level and a rooftop garden. The opening represents a £500,000 investment from MJR, who have undertaken “extensive renovations [to the building] designed to deliver the best experience possible.”

The Mill’s upcoming event programme features acts including Gentleman’s Dub Club, Napalm Death and shows curated by promoters including Cirque du Soul and Shadow City, showcasing the venue’s capability as both a live music venue and a nightclub. An upcoming performance by Mogwai on 23 November has already sold out completely.

“We have carefully created an events programme that will attract concert goers from all over the country, and we’re proud to host them in Digbeth”

Speaking about the upcoming launch of The Mill, Benjamin Newby, operations director at MJR, says, “We have carefully created an events programme that will attract concert goers from all over the country, and we’re proud to host them in Digbeth, one of the most vibrant creative quarters in the UK.

“Following our launch of Digbeth Arena back in May, we’re really excited to further contribute to this eclectic community and the city of Birmingham, when we open our doors later this month.”

Full line up information can be found on The Mill’s website. Further information on the venue’s nightlife programme will be released in the coming weeks.

 


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Rainbow Venues drops appeal against licence revocation

The Rainbow Events, formerly operator of the shuttered Rainbow complex in Birmingham, has dropped its appeal against the revocation of its operating licence, saying it has taken the decision to focus on event promotion “until major concerns around current regional licensing processes are addressed”.

The company, formerly known as the Rainbow Venues, lost its licence following the drugs-related death of a 19-year-old last October. The Rainbow Venues complex has since been taken over by MJR Group, which is to rebrand the 12,000sqft outdoor site as Digbeth Arena.

In January it launched a campaign to raise funds for its legal battle with Birmingham city council and West Midlands police. The £24,076 raised by the Educate Not Revocate campaign will be refunded to donors within 30 days of today (21 March).

“We will no longer invest in the city we have previously called home”

“We are resolute in our commitment to calling for a more progressive approach to licensing through the Educate Not Revocate campaign, as announced in January 2018, and extend a huge thank you to the fans, artists and industry professionals who have pledged their support to our cause so far,” the Rainbow Events founder Lee McDonald says. “[But] until the difficult and intimidating climate of licensing in Birmingham and across the UK changes, and the financial and emotional impact that it directly causes on venue owners and licensees is alleviated, we will no longer invest in the city we have previously called home.

“We look forward to taking time out to re-energise, and continue discussions with global brands and potential major partners, before unveiling further plans for the future.”

 


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Rainbow becomes Digbeth Arena under new operator MJR

The Rainbow Arena in Digbeth, Birmingham – a 12,000sqft outdoor venue formerly part of the Rainbow Venues – has been taken over by MJR Group, which is to rebrand the site Digbeth Arena.

The Rainbow Venues lost its licence last November following the drug-related death of a 19-year-old student. MJR – a fast-growing promoter/venue operator which recently welcomed several new recruits from CAA, DHP Family and VMS Live – has announced a series of shows for the rechristened venue, which originally opened in 2012 on the site of a former scaffold yard and has since hosted several major inner-city festivals, including Annie Mac Presents (2013), Made Festival (2014–2017) and Chapter Festival (2014–2017).

Under the Skyline Series banner, upcoming Digbeth Arena shows include James Arthur on 25 August; Texas and Imelda May on 1 September; The The on 7 September; and Garbage on 8 September, with more announcements expected soon.

Benjamin Newby of the MJR Group says: “We are honoured and humbled to become part of the innovative and artistic hub that is Digbeth, Birmingham. We have already started developing great relationships with the business and creative community and look forward to what the future will bring. We recognise the dedicated and inspirational work Rainbow Venues have put into their venues and Digbeth as a whole.

“We are honoured and humbled to become part of the innovative and artistic hub that is Digbeth”

“We will work hard to continue their passion while adding our own vision and operational standards to the arena.

“As a resident of Birmingham, I personally could not be happier or excited that MJR are involved in this project that joins our group of venues across the country, and become part of this exuberant city.”

The Rainbow Events – which as the Rainbow Venues formerly managed the site – meanwhile, is moving away from venue operation and towards concert promotion. “Our business will return full circle to the position from where we originally started,” comments Rainbow Venues founder Lee McDonald. “Working with emerging and established artists, bands and labels to produce extraordinary and memorable experiences for music fans and clubbers across the country under The Rainbow Events.

“We have a strong relationship with The MJR Group and could not be happier that they are the company taking the arena forward into the future.”

 


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MJR Group expands with new hires, venues

Promoter and venue owner/operator MJR Group has added several new venues, made a number of hires and expanded into a new country, following a period of growth for the UK-based company.

Joining MJR Group – which promotes more than 2,500 shows in the UK annually and a further 250 overseas, chiefly in Australia and New Zealand – are Mark Dennis, who joins from DHP Family as international marketing and communications director; Lottie Bradshaw, formerly of CAA, who becomes assistant to promotions director Mike Jones; and new national promoter Joff Hall, formerly of venue management and booking consultancy VMS.

The Bristol-based company has also signed on to develop four venues in Birmingham: Digbeth Arena (4,000-cap. outdoor), Crane (3,000-cap.), Bromley Street (2,000-cap.) and Mama Roux’s (350-cap.). They join MJR’s existing portfolio of UK venues, including Tramshed (1,000-cap.) and the Globe (350-cap.) in Cardiff, the Assembly (1,000-cap.) in Leamington Spa, Engine Rooms (800-cap.) in Southampton and Plug (1,100-cap.) in Sheffield.

Outside the UK, the company promoted its first concert in Dubai on Thursday 9 November: a sold-out show for Ocean Colour Scene at the Irish Village (2,000-cap.) venue. “New confirmations will go live for Dubai shortly, with the next focus points being South Africa and south-east Asia, to link up the UK–UAE–AUS–NZ route a lot of my tours are now following,” Jones tells IQ.

“The Australia and NZ business is doing fantastically, and that’s been the foundation to go into the UAE and South Africa”

Future international shows include include Sia at the 30,000-cap. Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland; Mariah Carey at various 10,000-plus-capacity arenas and vineyards across Australia and New Zealand; and 50 Cent at Parramatta Park in Sydney and Showgrounds in Melbourne (both 10,000-cap.). Jones continues: “In general, the Australia and New Zealand business is doing fantastically, and that’s been the foundation to go into the UAE, South Africa, et cetera…”

In addition to south-east Asia and South Africa, Jones says MJR Group is also eyeing mainland Europe and Qatar as next steps for the company.

“My big focus now as promotions director is cementing the UK business with concerts and tours both inside and outside of our venues, but also developing further markets internationally, too,” he concludes. “I want to be the promoter that agents can pick up the phone to on UK time and have conversations about several international markets all at once.”

 


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