WHAT a year it has been.
On November 11th 2014 we closed the doors at The Vibe Bar on Brick Lane, London, just a few months short of our 20th Birthday.
At the time I wrote a great deal about the challenges, impositions and hostile climate that the Night Time Industries, the owners, operators and promoters that are responsible for one of Britain’s most dynamic sectors of the economy faced.
From increasingly shrill regulatory demands by many councils that sometimes see the Night Time Economy as a “drain” on decreasing resources to police forces up and down the country concerned with their own cuts and focused on demonstrating an efficiency based on “crime stats” that often consisted largely of mobile phone losses.
Clubs, bars, festivals and pop ups have faced a plethora of curbs and impositions with everything from breathalysers on doors, ID Scanners, CCTV, metal detectors and a constant pressure that anything that happens at or even near the venue can be viewed as being the responsibility of the business itself.
Many of these issues are still prevalent.
However, the Report published last week by the Mayor’s Music Venues Task Force Saving Grassroots Venues which The Night Time Industries Association participated in advising on, will have a direct effect in a number of important areas that will help turn the tide and improve our cities.
The Agent of Change principle, namely that the agent of any change, such as a developer of new apartments, should be responsible for sound insulation will be strong step in the right direction to recognize that night time activity of all kinds is part of our vitality as a city.
Having a Music Development Board made up from the music industry to advise the London Assembly will be fruitful.
However, the thing that we believe has the potential to lead the way to make London and then other cities across Britain, seize the opportunity of being a forward leaning 21st century global city to compete and lead internationally is the position of Night Time Economy Champion.
Mirik Milan, the Night Time Mayor of Amsterdam has demonstrated over several years that the inter-relationship between the city, authorities and the business community has been improved and enhanced continually.
Indeed, Schipol Airport tweets a welcome to delegates attending Amsterdam Dance Event, the five day international festival in October every year that all the city buys in to, understanding the investment and brand value for it ongoing.
The Berlin Club Commission has had a similar representation for far longer and the reputation of the city has continued to increase and now each weekend many fly to enjoy the experience there.
This is a fantastic moment for London to show how all of the entrepreneurial, hard working innovators who put it all on the line daily, can work together in full partnership with a proper approach and strategy that works with urban planning, policing, transport and others.
For sure there are many challenges – such as the need for an ambitious house building campaign that everyone would benefit from (the lack of supply puts enormous pressure on venues and also those that cannot afford to purchase) – but this is an enormously important step in the right direction.
I wrote in The Sun previously, following the launch of The NTIA, about how we wanted to change the narrative and national conversation about the value, culturally and economically of the Night Time Economy, of our bars, restaurants, clubs and the myriad of other businesses connected to this tapestry.
With a Night Time Economy Champion this goal has been accelerated.
Brought in to the heart of leadership in London, this will shine a light on key issues from planning and licensing to regulation and policy more generally.
It will, if done correctly, enable a forward thinking orientation to all of the concerns of how to maximize the benefits of a city for the future and ensure we have a more nuanced way of all working together.
I am encouraging people to look at our fantastic nightclubs, bars, restaurants, festivals and pop ups of all kinds in the same way we did with The Olympics.
Night Time Industry and culture, like The Olympics, generally great news, producing excitement and enthusiastically embracing it for all of us together.
We can do this while handling any problems with confidence as we do so.
So, well done to The Mayor of London.
Here’s to a new Champion for us all, so that we can go together, forward, In To The Night.
Alan D Miller is Chairman of The Night Time Industries Association
For more information on the NTIA head here.