Clubs and venues are closing at an unprecedented rate, with a 35% drop in grassroots music spaces since 2007. But it doesn't have to be like this, argues Alan Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association.
London's nightlife and culture is under enormous pressure. The combination of increasing regulation by councils, punitive measures imposed after any incidents (despite crime decreasing over the last decade) plus rising property values is forcing many businesses to close.
Today is the launch of #NightlifeMatters — a national campaign that aims to get the public to have their say in the future of what our cities should look like.
The appeal and draw of London — the reason why so many of the best and brightest flock here from across Britain and internationally — is the sense of what is possible, to imagine, create and innovate. Many of the world’s leading companies, in their recognition of providing an interesting place for their employees to work from and live in, consider the night time offering as part of that equation.
While officially Britain has 24-hour licensing, passed over 10 years ago, in reality there are very few places that operate on that basis. After 2am, there are very few choices available.
#NightlifeMatters invites Londoners (and residents across Britain) to send emails to your local councillor and MP.
We saw from working with We Love Hackney last year, how getting over 5,000 local residents in a short space of time (over double the amount that voted for the deputy mayor of Hackney and head of licensing) that it is enormously effective when councillors hear from their local constituents.
Many today are a bit dismissive, especially of young people who they think simply often won't vote. We are calling on you — the 'silent majority' that love going out and enjoying the cultural and social benefits of a dynamic night time offering — to get your voices heard.
Other cities have made a difference
Amsterdam has just hosted the first Night Mayor Summit, led by Night Mayor Mirik Milan. It was remarkably inspiring to hear stories from cultural leaders such as Shailendra Singh who runs Sunburn Festival in Goa; the Japanese hip hop artist Zeebra who is the Night Time Ambassador in Tokyo and got 150,000 signatures to help change the prevention of dancing laws; and Tyson Koh who launched Keep Sydney Open as a challenge to the mad 'lock-out laws'.
It was clear that we are able to make an enormous difference through engaging with the public and challenging the idea that we should suffocate nightlife due to misguided and outdated ideas.
In London where one in four young people are unemployed, the night time industries should be employing more people.
This is chance to make a difference
More than this though, seeing Calvin Harris with Rhianna at Coachella, or Adele, Dizzee Rascal, Tinie Tempah, Lethal Bizzle, Skepta, Annie Mac or any number of our world class artists performing is impossible to imagine without our ecology of bars, clubs, pop-ups, festivals and events across the city.
It is where these artists are incubated and hone their skills. DJs, producers, promoters, labels, clubs and bars are all part of that tapestry.
We urge you today to join us, to make this campaign heard locally in each of the 32 boroughs and the City of London; to have councillors and MPs understand that this matters enormously to us all.
This is a chance to make a difference — not to bemoan the tragedy, but to set the trajectory in a better direction.
We are working with the mayor's office on a Night Time Commission and many representatives from policing, transport, housing, local councils and the creative industries have all been brought together to discuss and work out how best to work together to shape London's future.
This is what it is all about. Our campaign, #NightlifeMatters can help win over hearts and minds further.
Sign up now at www.nightlifematters.com and tweet your support #NightlifeMatters