Save Nightlife Panel at the Brighton Music Conference – April 2017

Last week, I was at the Brighton Music Conference Event – an event featuring lots of DJs, music promoters/makers and academies.

There was a lot of interesting conferences throughout the day (I was there for at least five of them) – Future of Electronic Music, focusing on how the likes of DJ equipment is fast becoming accessible and all computer-based, as well as the resurgence of Retro samples in recent dance tracks. Radio vs. Streaming Services (very interesting debate around Radio DJs vs. Soundcloud/Mixcloud players) and an in-depth presentation by the British Phonographic Industry/City of London Police around Piracy, and a bit around how VR technology is giving people access to experience what it could be like in a Nightclub without actually being there (Incredible, but scary!)

One of the main Sessions (and the one I was most looking forward to) was hosted/moderated by Alan Miller (Head of the Nighttime Industries Association) and featured panelists from Mixmag, Sub Club (a very popular Glasgow Nightclub), Carly Wilford (DJ) and reporters from BBC’s Newsbeat.

The focus of this conference was to raise awareness of Saving Nightlife and Nightlife Venues – noted that while Fabric had reopened earlier this year, they’ve had to adhere to strict conditions now, but also, quite recently a cabaret venue in West London was also recently shut down, there are still venues all of the UK that are facing the threat of closure and now it’s again raising the seriousness of the issue – especially as the Nightlife economy raises circa £26bn to the UK economy (interesting fact!)

Alan and the panel went into some detail around what the NTIA are doing to combat this – opening discussions with police, councils, etc upon hearing issues of venues closing – whether it is crime-related, re-development or leases on land running out. In addition, the panel went to discuss at length the image that Nightlife has been given that it’s negative, whereas (as Carly Wilford put it) some younger generation have had the best times of their lives in Nightclubs/bars/etc over the years, and if they were to close it would be difficult for this generation to experience. Also pointing out that it is a lot more safer now to go out now due to increase of CCTV, Police, etc than ever before.

Property development was raised as a key issue – and the fact that, whilst it sometimes cannot be helped that a Property Developer/company would want to buy on land near a Nighttime venue – there is a ‘An Agent of Change’ Principle that can be enforced – where, for example, the apartments near Ministry of Sound in Elephant & Castle have triple-glazing on windows, and the residents are made aware at point of buying that there are near a late-night venue to expect sometimes slight disturbance (something which I didn’t know about) – something could be ideally should be enforced more often, and made into law to make it an amicable result for all involved.

Further onto the difficulty is changing the negative stigma of London Nightlife and changing into a positive one, there was particular mentions of how Printworks – after their all-day parties are finished – are currently promoting the venue to be a creative/arts space, as well as Village Underground buying Hackney Arts Centre for the same purposes – keeping the venues open as long as possible (attracting more visitors but also retaining/increasing staff employment) that ensures the venues are seen in a positive light in the community.

Towards the end, one interesting point from one of the audience members refered to how Nighttime Laws in other countries (particularly in the USA and Canada) are relatively laxer, and makes late-night venues far more dangerous than the ones in some of London/UK. Where in London there is round-the-clock CCTV and security/police, in other countries it isn’t like that, so it should be applauded that London has the vast regulations in place to ensure venues operate smoothly and it shouldn’t be seen in a negative way too much.

Like most conferences of this kind, nothing really ever can get solved in an hour or two, but awareness was certainly raised and interesting to hear some of the opinions of others around the subject.

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