The Mayor of London is backing a new plan to protect the city’s music venues.
London’s Grassroots Music Venues Rescue Plan was produced by the Mayor’s Music Venues Taskforce, a body set up to investigate the problems facing music venues in the hope of stemming a wave of closures.
The plan proposes a variety of initiatives to protect the city’s night time economy, including the possibility of electing a “night time economy champion” or Night Mayor. Common in the Netherlands, a Night Mayor would have the job of building relations between venues, police and the council to deal with small problems before they escalate.
The plan also recommends supporting Agent Of Change principles, which would give power back to venues when a developer puts their business at risk. The principles, which have proved successful in Australia and Canada, would put the onus on developers to mitigate against future problems, for example over noise complaints by arranging for better soundproofing. This was used successfully when Ministry of Sound feared being shut down due to potential complaints from residents in a newly built apartment block.
Additionally, the Mayor is publishing a Culture and Planning Guide containing “jargon-free advice” on how planning policy can protect music and cultural venues, and is setting up a London Music Development Board to take over from the Taskforce and implement the recommendations in the plan.
London has lost 35 per cent of its grassroots music venues since 2007, according to the report, and the number of spaces programming new artists has dropped from 136 to 88. Over the past 18 months we’ve seen the closures of Vibe Bar, Madame Jojo’s and The Joiners to name a few, while the birthplace of UK garage has become an estate agent.