An unlikely saviour for London’s live music scene could be in London Mayor, Boris Johnson, who is backing an initiative to stem the closure of live venues, which has seen a 35% decrease in the capital since 2007.
The mayor comminssioned a report (London's Grassroots Music Venues Rescue Plan) into the issue and found that the problem is born out of a number of factors that include: rising population, demand for houses, licensing restrictions, alcohol consumption, along with noise complaints from residents of new housing developments.
London has lost a number of historical and notable venues that include: The Astoria on Charing Cross – which is now part of the Cross Rail development around Tottenham Court Road; burlesque and cabaret club, Madam Jojos, with other legendary clubs either having to relocate, the 12 Bar Club, or threatened with closure, particularly The 100 Club on Oxford Street.
This is not a London problem alone. The Guardian reported last year on the closure of the Sheffield Boardwalk with other live music venues similarly threatened: “notably Southampton’s the Joiners, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, Exeter’s Cavern, Hull’s Adelphi and Manchester’s Band on the Wall.
In speaking to City AM on this sector's importance, Boris Johnson had this to say: "From the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, the Clash to Oasis and Ed Sheeran to Adele, grassroots music venues have played a key role in enabling some of the biggest names in music to develop as artists and to build audiences. They are the incubators for the stars that go on to pack stadiums in London and across the world”.
Whether this will have any impact on halting the number of closures remains to be seen or whether the sector will come under the The Arts Council wing of ‘arms length’ government handouts. It does show however, that creativity and the platform to share it needs to be protected, not only in an artistic sense, but in the very un-rock-n-roll fiscal aspect. Live music contributes significantly to the UK's Night Time Economy, expected to be now around £70bn, and employs nearly 1.5 million people.
Picture of The Astoria courtesy of Wiki Commons
Copyright Speakers Corner 2016