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O2 ABC left severely damaged after art school fire

Glasgow’s music scene was in mourning this weekend after news broke that the fire that tore through the city’s School of Art had also left the O2 ABC with severe damage. 150 firefighters battled against the blaze on Friday night, but could not save the building’s roof, which collapsed after all staff and customers were evacuated to safety.

For over 150 years, the 1,300 capacity venue has been at the centre of culture and entertainment in Glasgow. The venue began life as The Diorama in 1875. Since then, it has been home to an ice rink, a cinema and a circus ring. As of 2018, the ABC was a popular and intimate venue, and also host to Europes largest disco ball.

In a statement released today, Graham Walters, chief operating officer of the Academy Music Group says: “We would like to thank the emergency services, especially the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, whose instantaneous action prevented any casualties, and for that they must be whole-heartedly commended.

“The events of Friday night have devastated so many in our industry who share our sadness.”

Following the news, a number of acts have expressed their sadness and the loss of the iconic venue. Glaswegian band Glasvegas took to Twitter to say they were “gutted” to hear about the news.

Fellow Scottish musicians Frightened Rabbit also tweeted their upset, saying: “Glasgow is hurting but will recover.”

The O2 ABC usually hosts an average of 400 events every year, playing host to all genres of music. With such a packed calendar, the news of such severe damage has made upcoming events and plans uncertain.

On the night of the fire, tribute band Foo Fighters GB was scheduled to play. Posting on their Facebook page, the band said: “It is with massive regret that we have to inform everyone that tonight’s Glasgow gig at the O2 ABC Glasgow cannot go ahead due to an horrific fire in the building.

“We hope everyone in the area is OK and are awaiting further info.”

Some bands scheduled to play at the ABC in the coming days and weeks, including Foo Fighters GB, have been offered the use of surrounding venues so the show may go on. American band Belly managed to play their Saturday show at the nearby venue The Garage.

In the statement released today, Academy Music Group explained it was taking the utmost care to rearrange upcoming gigs. However it also said the future of the venue itself is uncertain as the venue continues to be under the control of emergency services: “At this point in time, we do not have any further comment regarding the future of O2 ABC Glasgow.”


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Venues push for agent of change in Scotland

The owners of some of Glasgow’s leading venues have joined forces to drum up support for the agent-of-change principle north of the Scottish border, following the recent announcement from Westminster it plans to write agent of change into UK planning guidance.

The group – which includes King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut (300-cap.) owner DF Concerts, along with SWG3 (450-cap.), Sub Club (410-cap.), O2 Academy (2,500-cap.) and O2 ABC (1,362-cap.) – are calling for other venue owners, music fans and any other interested parties to push for the agent-of-change principle to be adopted by Scotland’s Local Government Committee by visiting by 2 February.

Unlike England and Wales, there is no protection in place in Scotland to protect established businesses from development in surrounding areas. Agent of change, if adopted, would make developers building new homes near Scottish venues responsible for addressing noise issues.

A spokesperson for the campaign tells IQ that while the so-called Spellar bill to introduce agent of change is backed by the British government, it will also need to be separately adopted by the devolved Scottish government to take effect in Scotland.

“Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently”

DF Concerts & Events CEO Geoff Ellis says: “Right now, music venues in Scotland are under threat and we need to act quickly to protect their future. Our venues are vital – they’re incubators for future headline acts, bring communities together through live concerts and generate £334 million for the Scottish tourism economy – so its therefore crucial we make sure they remain open.

“But to do this, we need to be heard, which is why we’re asking for the public, venue owners, people working in the creative industries and everyone who wants to protect these venues to work with us in pushing for agent of change. The UK government in Westminster has now implemented this move but it doesn’t yet apply up here, so we need the people of Scotland to contact the Local Government Committee to ensure our venues have the same level of protection.”

“Mike Grieve, MD of Sub Club, adds: “Nightlife is a massive contributor to the cultural wellbeing of our city. It’s vital that Glasgow’s creative community is protected from the threat posed by developers, many of whom seem apathetic to the concerns of music and arts venues, some of which may well be forced to close due to inadequate soundproofing in proposed new buildings.

“The agent-of-change principle has been adopted into planning guidance in England and Wales, and has now passed through a second reading in the UK parliament. Scottish planning guidance must be brought into line urgently if we want to avoid losing the venues which create the very conditions which most appeal to visitors to the city in the first place.”


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