It has been confirmed that London’s O2 Academy in Brixton is set to re-open using a series of “test events”.
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The decision comes after a hearing into the future of the venue commenced last Monday (September 11), which sought to determine whether or not the Academy Music Group (AMG) could continue to operate its licence at the venue following a fatal crowd crush at an Asake concert last December.
The event left two people dead and one in a critical condition. The Academy had its licence suspended and Metropolitan Police then reportedly made a push for the location to close its doors for good after the deaths of Gabrielle Hutchinson and Rebecca Ikumelo, who were aged 23 and 33 respectively.
A hearing regarding the future of the Brixton venue kicked off at the start of last week. Last Tuesday (September 12) it was reported that Lambeth Council would support the reopening of the O2 Academy “in principle” if a series of conditions were met.
Additionally, on Friday (September 15) it was announced that the music venue had been given the green light to keep its licence and re-open – providing that it meets 77 “extensive and robust” conditions “designed to promote public safety”.
Now, following the decision, the venue is set to re-launch with a series of “test events” and a timeline for the re-opening will be announced shortly.
“Over the past nine months the venue’s importance to the local community and the live music scene in the UK has been made clear through first-hand professional testimony, campaigns, and petitions as well as economic assessments demonstrating the financial impact to the surrounding area caused by the closure,” reads a statement from the AMG.
“Academy Music Group is determined to learn all appropriate lessons from the night of December 15, 2022. Working at a senior level with experts across all disciplines, AMG presented a comprehensive, multi-faceted response for the licensing authorities to support their case for the safe and secure reopening of the venue.
“We appreciate having had the opportunity to present these detailed proposals and revised licence conditions at the hearing and we are very grateful they met with the approval of the Licensing Sub-Committee.”
The Metropolitan Police also shared a statement regarding the decision to re-open the live music space, saying that it plans to “work with the applicant and Lambeth Council to ensure the public can once again enjoy events at the Academy – but in an environment where their safety is paramount”.
It added that it “always” wanted to ensure the venue was safe to the public and that “it has never been our aim to ask for the venue itself to be permanently closed”.
“Our investigation to establish the circumstances of what caused the tragic incident on 15 December 2022 is ongoing,” the statement concluded. “We want to thank everyone who has already been in touch with information, and encourage anyone else who was present to come forward and provide any information they may hold.”
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Since the venue shut its doors last winter, an online petition was launched to counteract the closure and various artists and industry professionals also spoke out against the potential shutting down of the venue.
Stuart O’Brien, who started the petition, told last week’s hearing: “We don’t close sporting venues when tragedy strikes. What we do is take measures nationwide that keep everyone safe when attending those events. The same needs to happen here.
“It is not the building that is to blame for this tragedy, and providing the owner acts on the recommendations that are put to them, I’m sure we can maintain a safe environment for everyone in the future.”