Four Ways The New UK Government Needs To Support Nightlife - Features - Mixmag

Four Ways The New UK Government Needs To Support Nightlife

​An open letter to the incoming government of the United Kingdom

  • Michael Kill
  • 4 July 2024

To the Honourable Members of the New Government,

As you assume your roles in leading our great nation, I am compelled to bring to your immediate attention the critical state of the nightlife industry. The UK's night-time economy, festivals, and events sector, a vibrant tapestry woven into the very fabric of our culture and communities, stands on the brink of collapse. Your swift and decisive action is crucial to ensure its survival and future prosperity.

Over the past year, we have witnessed the heartbreaking loss of more than 40 festivals, and the closure of five nightclubs and two grassroots music venues each week. These closures are not mere statistics; they represent the disintegration of our cultural heritage, the loss of community hubs, and the erosion of spaces that nurture creativity and social cohesion. The night-time economy is not just an economic powerhouse; it is the heartbeat of our cities and towns, fostering a sense of belonging and identity.

The economic contributions of this sector are staggering. Turning over £136 billion in revenue per year, it is the largest employer of under-30s, providing vital opportunities and career pathways for young people. Yet, despite its importance, the sector has been hit hard. In the last four years, we have lost 23,000 businesses, with 6,000 closures last year alone. Most of these were independent businesses, the lifeblood of local economies, leading to a contraction of the market by 13%.

This devastation is felt acutely in cities and towns across the country, where the night-time economy supports tourism, drives innovation, and cultivates local talent.

The cultural and community impacts are equally profound. Festivals and events bring people together, celebrate diversity, and enrich our lives with music, art, and shared experiences. They are platforms for emerging artists and a magnet for tourists, contributing significantly to our international reputation and soft power.

The closure of these spaces also profoundly affects communities and youth culture. For many young people, nightclubs, music venues, and festivals are not just places of entertainment but safe spaces where they can express themselves, form their identities, and connect with others who share their passions. These venues often serve as sanctuaries for marginalised groups, providing inclusive environments where everyone, regardless of background, can feel safe and welcome.

As someone who has witnessed firsthand the transformative power of the night-time economy on communities and individuals, I implore the new government to take action and support it.

In light of these pressing issues, we propose the following measures:

1. Implement a Heritage Protection Scheme for Venues and Cultural Spaces: Similar to protections for galleries, castles, and museums, this scheme will ensure the preservation of venues that are integral to the cultural fabric of our communities.

2. Establish a National Fund to Support and Protect Cultural Venues: A dedicated fund will safeguard the future of our industry, ensuring that grassroots and cultural venues can continue to thrive and contribute to the economy and society.

3. Appoint a Minister for the Night-Time Economy & Culture: The NTIA urges the establishment of a dedicated ministerial position to oversee and champion the night-time economy at the highest level of government. This role will ensure focused attention and strategic direction for the sector.

4. Implement a bespoke package of tax cuts: This should include the continuation of business rates relief and a reduction in VAT to 12.5% for the next 12 months. These measures will provide the financial headroom necessary for businesses to survive and thrive, ensuring that our night-time economy can continue to be a source of joy, employment, and cultural enrichment for all.

The survival of this sector is not just an economic imperative but a cultural and social necessity. The time to act is now, and your leadership can make the difference between a vibrant, thriving night-time economy and a desolate cultural landscape.

Michael Kill is CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, follow him on Twitter

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