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More than 10,000 letters of support for Brixton Academy sent to Lambeth Council

By | Published on Monday 15 May 2023

Brixton Academy

Over 10,000 letters have been sent to Lambeth Council in support of the Brixton Academy as the local authority considers a request by London’s Metropolitan Police to revoke the licence of current operators Academy Music Group. That request was in response to the crowd crush incident that occurred at an Asake show last year and which resulted in two deaths.

The south London venue has been closed ever since the crowd crush incident on 15 Dec. It emerged last month that police – who have been busy investigating the events and decisions that led to the crowd crush – had requested that Lambeth Council, which regulates the Brixton Academy, instigate a full review of its current licence. Moreover, the police force recommended that the current licence should be revoked.

At the time, the Live Nation-allied AMG said that it had had “regular meetings and discussions with the Metropolitan Police and Lambeth Council at which we have presented detailed proposals that we believe will enable the venue to reopen safely”. It added that it was awaiting feedback on those proposals and that it “looks forward to hearing from the police as soon as possible in constructive terms”.

Lambeth Council subsequently published a document that outlines the concerns of the police. Officers argue that AMG’s analysis of what went wrong on 15 Dec last year is “far too narrow”, focusing mainly on crowd management issues that occurred in the street outside the venue. The police reckon that “what happened inside is as much a part of the incident as what happened outside, if not more so: the fatalities occurred in the foyer”.

There have also been allegations that a ticketing scam being run at the venue may have contributed to the crowd crush. In a BBC report it was alleged that some security personnel at the venue were working in partnership with ticket touts, selling fake tickets to shows at the Brixton Academy and then ensuring that those fake tickets got buyers into the building.

That scam could have resulted in the Academy being at capacity on the night of the sell-out Asake show even though there were still legitimate ticket holders in the crowd outside trying to get in.

While the exact circumstances that led to last year’s crowd crush remain unclear – pending the findings of the ongoing police investigation – the music community is nevertheless keen to ensure that the Brixton Academy is still able to operate as a venue in the long term.

With that in mind, the Night Time Industries Association last week teamed up with the Save Our Scene campaign and the Brixton BID collective of local businesses to urge music fans and the music community to communicate their support for the Brixton Academy to Lambeth Council. The deadline to formally respond to the Met Police’s request for a licence review is midnight tonight.

Text proposed by the three organisations for people to include in their representations to the council notes that the Brixton Academy attracts over 650,000 people and 150 shows a year, and has “cemented itself as one of the most culturally significant performance spaces in the UK”.

“Without this venue in London, we would see a huge void in our cultural economy, a considerable gap in touring capability, loss of jobs and one less platform for headline domestic and international artists to perform, losing out to our international counterparts”, it goes on.

“This venue is a huge talent bed for new artists, and for many performing within this space it has been a turning point within their career, with many artists today citing this space as one of their pinnacle career moments”.

The proposed text also specifically supports AMG. “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”, it states.

“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”.

Later on the proposed text adds: “I have not lost sight of the tragic incident that occurred in December, but would respectfully ask you to consider working with AMG and the venue to learn from what has happened and enhance the licence to ensure that this could never happen again”.

It was the NTIA which confirmed earlier today that over 10,000 representations have now been made in support of the Brixton Academy. Meanwhile, an online petition calling on the council to ensure that the venue can continue operating has now passed 103,000 signatures.

“The outcry from the music community has been extremely humbling, with over 10,000 responses in just a few days, this level of response really shows the emotional connection that this venue has with music fans across the UK and around the world”, says NTIA boss Michael Kill.

“I have had hundreds of conversations with people on this campaign journey, across all walks of life – journalists, bankers, nurses, builders, baristas – some who have been to a show or planned to go to a show in the future or had shared an important life experience within it. The Brixton Academy is a huge part of the social and cultural economy within London and the UK, and is without doubt one of the landmark performance spaces in the world”.

“The potential loss of this venue would be catastrophic for the industry”, he adds. “Most people who are engaged with this campaign are angered and shocked that this venue could be lost forever. We want to again 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”.