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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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New 3,000-cap. venue, Magazine London, to open in Greenwich

A new 3,000-capacity music and events venue, Magazine London, is set to open in Greenwich in 2019.

Magazine will be operated by Vibration Group, the company behind Printworks in Canada Water, and is intended to host concerts, parties, exhibitions, conferences and other events.

The Magazine site will also be home to a 7,000-cap. outdoor festival/events site, dubbed the Showground, on the Greenwich peninsula, close to the O2 Arena.

“Working with Knight Dragon is an incredible opportunity,” says Simon Tracey, Vibration Group CEO. “They are an extremely dynamic company with a proven international track record and developments in four continents.

“London is still very much at the forefront of live events globally, and Magazine, with its incredible flexibility both indoor and out, is groundbreaking.”

“As well as the O2… Magazine London adds another dimension, and another destination, to [Greenwich] peninsula”

Richard Margree, CEO of property company Knight Dragon, which has invested a “multimillion-pound” sum into the project, adds: “Magazine London fits superbly with what we’re doing on Greenwich Peninsula: creating a new London underpinned by creativity, a community with culture and entertainment at its heart. As well as the hugely successful O2, and the Design District opening in 2020, Magazine London adds another dimension, and another destination, to the emerging peninsula.”

“It’s a pivotal moment for Venue Lab and hugely significant for London,” comments Vibration Group’s strategy and creative director, Simeon Aldred. “Greenwich peninsula is a flagship global development and one of the single largest regeneration projects in Europe.

“To be developing a brand new cultural venue here is exciting for us and crucial in place-making, adding to the cultural diversity and investment Knight Dragon are bringing to the area.”

Construction of Magazine London begins December 2018, for an expected opening in summer 2019.

 


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Printworks reveals plans for 3,000-cap. live room

Printworks London, the 5,000-capacity electronic music venue that opened in south-east London last January, has revealed ambitious plans to launch a new 3,000-cap. live room hosting “some of the biggest and most acclaimed live acts today”.

The venue, booked by festival promoter Broadwick Live (Snowbombing, Festival №6, Field Day), opened its doors in January 2017 on the site of a former newspaper printworks in Canada Water. Since then it has specialised in electronic music, although operator Vibration Group hopes the new-format live space will also transform the venue into a “key tour stop for live music artists”, as well as a home for more general arts and culture programming.

The new room opens this Friday (23 March) with a show by Django Django, followed by multi-instrumentalist Tokio Myers on 10 April and Pendulum on 14 April.

Arts and culture programming will be overseen by Tamsin Ace, head of festival programme at London’s Southbank Centre.

“We feel hugely privileged to have helped breathe life back into this remarkable landmark”

“We feel hugely privileged to have helped breathe life back into this remarkable landmark since it opened its doors as a venue in 2017,” says Broadwick Live MD Bradley Thompson. “It was always our ambition for Printworks to lead the way not just in era-defining electronic music events, but across all arts.

“In Printworks, we truly believe that we have one of the most incredible venues there is today, and we’re absolutely committed to giving people unparalleled production, programming and experiences throughout the cultural spectrum.”

“I’m excited to be part of the team creating a new arts and culture programme for Printworks,” adds Ace. With such a different space to play with, Printworks offers the opportunity for artists to create something truly unique.”

 


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New 5,000-cap. London venue set for Jan opening

A new 5,000-capacity concert and event venue is set to open in London next January.

Printworks, operated by event production firm Vibration Group and booked by Broadwick Live and LWE, is located in a 16-acre former newspaper printing facility in the Docklands. It has already hosted a number of events, including Mulberry’s London Fashion Week show and Secret Cinema’s Star Wars and 28 Days Later experiences (and served as a film set for Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron), but Vibration has now filed a planning application for the temporary use of the venue as a “culture, music and arts space”.

If approved by Southwark Borough Council, events will begin in January 2017. Already planned are a “mini jazz season, a classical music programme, […] makers’ markets, vintage fairs, food festivals and Cartel, a new car show concept to hit London next autumn”.

The venue is leased from property developer British Land.

“We’re extremely proud and excited to be part of the team launching Printworks London – a new innovative concept we hope will become one of the most sought-after venues in London,” says Gareth Cooper, CEO of Broadwick Live, which recently welcomed new investment from the Global group.

“Printworks [is] an innovative concept we hope will become one of the most sought-after venues in London”

“A space that crosses so many boundaries, Printworks London will host an eclectic mix of entertainment, from the best underground electronic music to immersive theatre experiences. Our dream is to add another notch to London’s world-class entertainment scene, and we can’t wait to get started.”

A statement from LWE adds: “Our business model has always been about finding new and exciting spaces in the capital: in 2014 we started music events in the beautiful grade I-listed Tobacco Dock [and] in 2016 we launched Junction 2 at Boston Manor Park, with the main stage on an island under a motorway bridge. We didn’t think the best could be still round the corner, but it was – this is the icing on the cake. We can’t wait to put our LWE stamp on it.”

In June Music Venue Trust head Mark Davyd predicted a live music resurgence in London over the course of the year, telling IQ he knew of least four brand-new music venues opening in London.  “I think people in the sector are feeling a lot more positive about their ability to sustain London’s music scene and be valued in what they’re doing,” he commented.

Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett’s new venue, Omeara, opened in September.

 


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