A fresh campaign has been launched to save the O2 Academy in Brixton.
The iconic London venue drew controversy last year following a fatal crowd crush that occurred at an Asake concert. The event — which left two dead and one in critical condition — ultimately led to the academy having its licence suspended for three months.
The Metropolitan Police have since claimed to have “lost confidence” in the safety of the venue and made a push for the location to close its doors for good.
An online petition was then launched to counteract the closure while various artists and industry professionals also spoke out against the potential shutting down of the venue. So far it has attracted over 103,000 signatures.
Now, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) have launched a campaign alongside Save Our Scene and Brixton BID to keep the O2 Academy in Brixton open. You can support their campaign here.
The NTIA said the venue “has been part of the cultural tapestry of London” and “one of the most celebrated venues in the UK, hosting performance royalty from a hugely diverse internationally acclaimed pool of talent, including Eddie Izzard, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Groove Armada, Rema, Little Simz, Little Britain, Davido, Arctic Monkeys, Skrillex, Stormzy, Kylie Minogue, Ziggy Marley, Burnaboy, LCD Soundsystem, Rihanna, on top of the countless award ceremonies and ambassadorial moments representing the UK globally.”
Despite the Metropolitan Police recently saying it had “lost confidence” in the venue’s operator AMG, the NTIA said: “For decades the Brixton Academy under Academy Music Group management has been a safe and inclusive space for people to enjoy a wide range of cultural activities, from awards, live and recorded music, comedy to corporate events and filming. The venue has a considerable workforce and is one of the key employers of young people within the area, supporting a wide range of businesses and freelancers within the local community and across the UK, making a huge contribution to the local and national economy.”
It added: “We cannot lose sight of the tragic incident that occurred in December, but would respectfully ask that the Authorities consider working with AMG and the venue to learn from what has happened and enhance the licence and safety measures to ensure that this never happens again.”
NTIA CEO Michael Kill also said the venue “is a huge part of the cultural economy within London and the UK, and is without doubt one of the landmark performance spaces in the world. It is responsible for shaping and nurturing artists’ careers past and present.”
He continued: “The loss of this venue would be catastrophic for the industry, so would urge all involved to step forward and engage in productive and meaningful discussions, with an aim to resolve the current challenges and present a unified position on delivering the safe and effective management of this space in the future.”
Managing Director at Brixton BID, Gianluca Rizzo also said that “Brixton Academy is one of the most iconic music venues in the UK and beyond. Whilst artists dream about performing in Brixton, our business community is proud to be home of such venue. Not only it is one of our key cultural destinations, the Brixton Academy contributes positively to the local economy as well as opportunities for our community. We stand by the Brixton Academy.”
Meanwhile, George Fleming CEO Save Our Scene also said that he was concerned that “if the [Lambeth] council & [the] government continues to undermine culture and close down venues, we could see the industry move further underground where there is not the same level of regulation or safety. All they have to do is look at what happened in the 90s.”
He went on: “In this case, we are urging Lambeth Council to work with Brixton Academy on finding a constructive way to keep this sacred space open & safe for people to enjoy. It’s far too important for the local economy & our culture to close down and would set a precedent, which our sector can not afford.”