An open Q&A and panel at Thekla looks to safeguard music venues alongside urban development

After the recent closure of one important venue and ongoing threats to several more, the open event hopes to find a permanent solution to keep venues safe

This Wednesday, Thekla will be joining forces with national trade association NTIA (Night Time Industry Association) to host an evening of panel discussion explore how Bristol’s night-time economy can co-exist harmoniously with surging urban developments.

The event comes after the tragic closure of St Paul’s beloved Surrey Vaults at the end of November due to noise complaints, as well as the current threat to volunteer-led community arts space Jam Jar, who are currently in the midst of a crowd funding campaign to finance necessary renovations after the venue was denied a full premises license this summer – largely on the grounds of noise complaints (you can find out more about their appeal and donate here).

The event comes after the tragic closure of St Paul’s beloved Surrey Vaults at the end of November due to noise complaints, as well as the current threat to volunteer-led community arts space Jam Jar

And, of course, the recent major fears over Thekla’s future. The popular live music and club venue steeped in Bristol history could now be at risk of closure due to likely noise complaints from future inhabitants of the new Redcliffe Wharf development across the water. Planners have been given the go ahead despite serious concerns over a deeply inaccurate noise survey taken on a weekday evening that by no means gives an accurate representation of the venue’s typical noise levels. This means that developers won’t be held responsible for installing adequate soundproofing, which will inevitably lead to a war between residents and the venue.

The event runs from 6pm till 9pm and will include a Q&A session on the iconic venue’s future, followed by a panel discussion on how to achieve a 360-degree approach so that urban regeneration and our much-loved music and club venues can continue to flourish together. Confirmed panel members are Tom Paine (Team Love), Leighton De Burca (SaveBristolNightlife, NITE Watch and Place Making Bristol) and John Hirst (Destination Bristol), with further guests to be announced shortly.

The event is open to the public and panellist Leighton De Burca is encouraging as many people with an interest to attend or get involved with the city’s agenda setting

The event is open to the public and panellist Leighton De Burca is encouraging as many people as possible get involved with the city’s agenda setting by attending the event or via his SaveBristolNightlife Facebook page. While Bristol is undoubtedly very reactive – with thousands of people sharing the #SaveThekla hashtag – it’s important that we become more proactive if we want to see a longterm solution to the problem.

it’s important that we become more proactive if we want to see a longterm solution to the problem

Over 50% of people in Bristol are aged 16-49 (Bristol.gov.uk), while according to Leighton, the average age of the councillors who run the city is 60+, so it is vitally important that younger voices are heard in the conversation about how important these venues are to Bristol’s night life. You can reserve your place at the free-to-attend event on Wednesday evening by simply emailing [email protected] with your full name.

Over 50% of people in Bristol are aged 16-49 (…) while the average age of the councillors who run the city is 60+

We grabbed a few words with Leighton, who has been working on Bristol’s night life economy for about 8 years as he strives to give the industry a voice:

‘I love Bristol, it’s a very special city. Currently, we are experiencing the same threats to our night life culture that London had around 10 years ago. London, however, didn’t listen to the community and didn’t respond to the crisis. Here in Bristol we’re lucky, as we’re at the stage where we can fix our problems by working together in partnership.’

in Bristol we’re lucky, as we’re at the stage where we can fix our problems by working together in partnership

The event on Wednesday is about coming up with a solution that works for Bristol, by learning from other places like Amsterdam and Berlin who have a thriving night life culture, but also from London’s mistakes that lead to the loss of 35% of its grassroots venues since 2007:

‘Ultimately, we need a night time commission consisting of regulatory services, everything from planning, police, agencies, industries and the community. We need a night time mayor, someone who can talk the language of the city and understand the differences between night and day economy.’

We need a night time mayor, someone who can talk the language of the city and understand the differences between night and day economy

Grassroots venues like Thekla, with their music not money ethos, majorly contribute to our night time economy as well as being invaluable to up-and-coming artists. According to the NTIA, our night time economy is the UK’s fifth biggest industry accounting for at least 8% of employment and revenues of £66bn per annum.

‘These grassroots venues make more money for everyone than anyone,’ Leighton continues. ‘To negate their economic contribution to the world is a disservice. If a venue is free entry, or a workshop or pop-up, the people that go there will probably get a cab, may eat out at a restaurant beforehand, have drinks at a bar or pub and will probably get a kebab after too!’

After the event on Wednesday, Leighton will upload letters with a clear and distinct message on his SaveBristolNightlife Facebook page along with councillors’ emails. He encourages us partygoers to print and sign the letters, or simply email, so that we can join the collective voice trying to instigate these all important changes that will protect our venues now and in the future.

6 December – Safe Guarding Music Venues Q&A and panel, Thekla
Facebook event // Tickets (free): email [email protected]

facebook.com/savebristolnightlife // placemakingbristol.co.uk // ntia.co.uk

Words by Georgie Partington
Photos by Khali Ackford and Dominika Scheibinger

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