As venue closures continue to rise, the Mayor of London is embracing policy supporting live music venues, placing cultural life and vibrancy ahead of the interests of real estate developers.
While Australian state governments continue to consider expanding lockout laws around the country despite numerous protests and demonstrations, all while Sydney’s nightlife is dying, the Mayor of London has lent his support to a novel new proposal to combat his own city’s nightlife crisis. The election of a Night Mayor.
Already common in the Netherlands, a Night Mayor’s job is to represent the nighttime economy of a city and build relationships between venues, police and councils. Proposed as part of London’s Grassroots Music Venues Rescue Plan to halt the closure and support the establishment of grassroots music and cultural venues, the plan puts forward a number of initiatives of which the Night Mayor was one.
With London having lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues since 2007 and the number of spaces programming new artists dropping from 136 to 88, the report comes just in time, albeit too late for iconic venues such as Vibe Bar, Madame Jojo’s, The Joiners and the birthplace of UK Garage The Elephant & Castle.
The plan also recommends that Agent Of Change principles similar to those already in place here in Australia and Canada ought to be adopted. The principles would give power back to venues when a developer puts their business at risk and put the onus on developers to insure against future problems, such as noise complaints, by installing adequate soundproofing in the first place.
On top of all this, the Mayor is set to publish a Culture and Planning Guide with “jargon-free advice” on how policy can help protect music and cultural venues, as well as setting up a London Music Development Board to take over from his Music Venues Taskforce (who put together the rescue plan) and implement their recommendations.
Meanwhile in Australia, the NSW state premier Mike Baird is live tweeting the Bachelor as hundreds of jobs are lost and dozens of small businesses such as the Lansdowne Hotel are forced to shut their doors.
“We want solutions that accommodate decent party-goers, and beyond that we want to build a positive atmosphere in Sydney after dark,” he explained. “The streets are soulless now, and guess what? They’re still violent. Even with the lockouts removed we will have a lot of work ahead of us to rebuild what has been lost.”