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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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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 to open new venue, Exhibition London, in Shepherd’s Bush

Broadwick Venues, the venue arm of UK festival promoter Broadwick Live, has announced plans for a major new music venue and events space at the Westfield shopping centre in Shepherd’s Bush, west London.

Scheduled to open at the end of 2019, Exhibition London – named after its proximity to the site of the Franco-British Exhibition of 1908 – will repurpose the grade II-listed Dimco East building, a Victorian structure originally built as an electricity generating station for the London Underground, as a 3,000-capacity events venue.

Conceived by Broadwick Venues – also owner/operator of the Printworks venue in Canada Water – the 34,000sqft venue is “primed to host high-profile live music events, brand experiences, product launches, exhibitions, conferences, award ceremonies and community events”, according to Broadwick, which says Exhibition forms part of a string of new venues planned across the UK.

Bradley Thompson, MD of Broadwick Live and Venues, says: “Exhibition represents an important moment in the evolution of Westfield London, creating a unique entertainment hub and enhancing the area’s cultural kudos. It will attract and serve not only the local community, but the ever-increasing number of people who rightly view White City [north of Shepherd’s Bush] as one of the most exciting growth places in the capital. The location is perfect and the building itself is incredible.

“The location is perfect and the building itself is incredible”

“We are committed to respecting its past and investing in its future, offering fantastic, contemporary experiences against a stunning Victorian backdrop.”

Michel Dessolain, COO, Europe, for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, which operates the shopping centre, adds: “Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield creates unique and innovative destinations globally where our customers can shop, dine, be entertained and connect. Our partnership with Broadwick Venues, one of the biggest players in the events industry in the UK, and through the support of London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, will deliver an amazing new entertainment experience and will be a leading new events venue in London.”

Work begins on Exhibition – located less than half a mile away from the long-running 2,000-cap. Shepherd’s Bush Empire venue, operated by Academy Music Group – ahead of its opening later this year.

Vibration Group, Broadwick’s partner on Printworks, has announced plans for its own 3,000-cap. venue on the Greenwich peninsula, Magazine, close to the O2 – while Madison Square Garden is plotting an arena in the vicinity of London’s other Westfield, in Stratford.


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