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.”
Report: Music fuels economic growth in cities
Sound Diplomacy, a London-based music strategy consultancy, has released a 13-point manual illustrating how investing in music can lead to economic, social and cultural development in cities.
‘The Music Cities Manual’ sets out 13 steps for city councils or civic leaders to increase economic growth through music.
The manual indicates how cities can benefit from enhancing education, supporting live venues and investing in music technology. The report also lays out how to integrate music into development and regeneration strategies, helping to safeguard infrastructure while creating new opportunities for inward investment, tourism and talent attraction.
The subject of music and urban economic growth is also the focus of Sound Diplomacy’s United Nations-backed music tourism white paper ‘Music is the New Gastronomy’, used as the framework for the tourism and destination business workshop at ILMC 31.
“The Music Cities Manual helps to underline the massive cultural and economic contribution music makes to its environment”
The Music Cities Manual advises that local governments stop cutting music education funding, appoint “night czars”, support a night time economy policy and ensure arts, music and cultural venues are incorporated into local urban planning.
“This manual is our attempt to synergise our work with city leaders around the world into 13 actionable steps,” comments Shain Shapiro PhD, founder of Sound Diplomacy. “There’s huge scope for cities, regions and place shapers of all kinds to improve their communities and effect real, positive change through music.”
“A huge body of evidence supports not just the economic gains, but the social benefits from having music incorporated right across the policy landscape,” adds Shapiro.
“The Music Cities Manual helps to underline the massive cultural and economic contribution music makes to its environment,” comments Paul Pacifico, chief executive of UK trade body Association of Independent Music. “It is undoubtedly an important document for independent labels, artists and the musical ecosystem as a whole.”
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 Citizen, protest 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.”
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.
Local authorities are responsible for licensing decisions, not the @mayoroflondon or the @nightczar. If you would like more information, here is a link to the Licensing Act 2003 https://t.co/2dg1VOr4x6
— amy lamé (@amylame) July 18, 2018
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.
New York, Edinburgh mull appointing night mayors
Following the lead of London, Paris, Zurich and several cities in the Netherlands, both New York and Scottish capital Edinburgh are considering appointing ‘night mayors’ to oversee the cities’ night-time economies.
Rafael Espinal, the member of New York city council for the 37th district, is reportedly drafting legislation that would create an office of nightlife overseen by the city’s first night mayor.
“What I imagine the office doing is finding ways we can be helpful in creating a business-friendly environment that supports nightlife,” Espinal tells Gothamist. “I want to make sure that we’re not a city where artists’ ability to express themselves is hindered by bureaucracy.”
The proposed role would include responsibility for protecting the city’s small and DIY venues, many of which are under pressure from local authorities and property developers.
“I feel like these venues are facing a whole array of issues: getting up to code and also dealing with pressures of the real-estate market here in New York,” Espinal adds. “We’ve got to the point where the only venues who are able to survive in this city are the high-end nightclubs in the Meatpacking district, or places with similar business models.
“We’ve got to the point where the only venues who are able to survive in this city are the high-end nightclubs”
“My main motivation to push for this office is to make sure that the DIY venues and the smaller venues that actually provide a hub for artists and musicians to come together and express their art are able to survive.”
Meanwhile, Edinburgh city council is expected to move ahead with plans to appoint its own night mayor following more than two years of talks with representatives of the local music business.
The move has been welcomed by Music Venue Trust, which wants to see the appointment of Amy Lamé as London’s ‘night czar’ replicated in other British cities.
The Scotsman reports the Edinburgh night mayor’s role would be as a “go-between for the [music] sector and different city council departments”, leading efforts to secure the future of existing venues and advise on the development of new ones.
According to The Economist, the introduction of Amsterdam’s night mayor (nachtburgemeester) in 2014 has been “transformative” for the Dutch capital, with Mirik Milan’s achievements including delivering a licensing regime that allows some venues to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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.
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.”
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.”
London appoints first night czar
London today became the biggest city so far to appoint a ‘night czar’ to champion and protect its nightlife.
The hiring of Amy Lamé, an American-born broadcaster, writer and gay rights activist, follows the appointment of night mayors in other cities in Europe and North America, including Berlin, Amsterdam and San Francisco. The creation of the post, which pays £35,000 per annum for two-and-a-half days a week, was a manifesto commitment of London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan.
Khan’s office says Lamé (pictured) was “appointed based on her extensive knowledge and experience of the night-time economy, having built her career in the industry over the last two decades. She has a proven track record in the area, fighting for the future of one of the capital’s legendary LGBT+ [lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender +, with the “+” representing other sexual/gender minorities] venues, the Royal Vauxhall Tavern”. In addition to her work as a radio and TV presenter, performer, writer and journalist, Lamé was from 2010 to 2011 ceremonial mayoress of Camden.
Lamé’s first initiative as night czar will be a series of monthly ‘night surgeries’, in which she will speak to businesses, night-time workers, residents and members of the public “to get an understanding of Londoners’ views of the night-time economy”.
“Making Amy night czar is the right kind of investment in all our futures”
Jo Dipple, the CEO of industry umbrella association UK Music, says: “The appointment of Amy Lamé as night czar is brilliant news for London’s music scene, much of which operates outside nine-to-five office hours. In 2015 concerts and festivals attracted 3.2m tourists to London, who spent £1bn in the process.
“Sadiq Khan knows the night-time economy must be sustainable for Londoners, for businesses and for fans. Making Amy night czar is the right kind of investment in all our futures. I would like other cities to follow Sadiq’s lead and put a woman in charge of the night.”
Music Venues Trust’s Mark Davyd adds: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the announcement of the first ever night czar for London. London’s night-time economy plays a crucial role in the success of the capital. […] We look forward to working with the new Night Czar to ensure that London’s grassroots music venues are secured, protected and improved.”
While the appointment of London’s first night mayor/czar is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, it remains to be seen how much influence Lamé will have on local authorities – such as Islington council, which recently forced the closure of Fabric. Speaking to IQ in September, Columbo Group (The Camden Assembly/Barfly, Jazz Café) founder Steve Ball expressed doubts about how much difference City Hall can actually make on the capital’s nightlife: “The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall,” he said, “and I’d argue that licensing authorities can often be backwards in their views. When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude.”
London hiring: Khan seeks his night czar
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made good on his promise to create a ‘night czar’ role to oversee London’s night-time economy and grassroots music venues and clubs.
City Hall this afternoon posted the official job description, which offers the successful applicant £35,000 per annum for 2.5 days a week, and is initially fixed-term for a year. Desirable qualities include a “proven leadership ability, public profile and convening power” and “thorough understanding of the night-time economy and the ability to work in a political environment”.
Khan vowed to make the cultural sector one of his “top priorities” following his election in May, and has recently been vocal in his support for Ben Lovett’s new venue, Omeara, and under-threat nightclub Fabric.
London’s small-venue scene, long in steep decline – an estimated 40% of grassroots music venues closed between 2004 and 2014 – is slowly recovering, reported IQ in June, with at least four new venues scheduled to open this year.