The hearing that will determine the future of the iconic O2 Academy Brixton in London began today (Monday, September 11), with the city council guaranteeing the safety of the premises, as well as its “economic and cultural importance.”
The two-day hearing will take place at Lambeth Town Hall and will decide whether or not the Academy Music Group can continue to manage the license for this music venue, which was forced to close its doors following the fatal crash. happened in december during period. Asake concert.
The event – which left two people dead and one in critical condition – ended when the academy’s license was suspended. Since then, the Metropolitan Police have claimed they have “lost confidence” in the premises’ security and have pressured it to close its doors permanently.
Speaking on behalf of AMG, Philip Kolvin QC told the hearing that operators were open to ideas “to make the place even safer” by “partnering and finding solutions”, adding that the conclusions would be presented of the council is “the product of the council. many months of work from headquarters, event specialists and independent experts in all relevant areas – including security, crowd management, engineering, licensing and health and safety”.
“What is put in front of you is not an address: it is a serious professional approach that is carefully considered to prevent the events of December 15, 2022 from happening again,” he said.
He continued: “This is an extremely traumatic situation for many people and, in particular, for those who have suffered loss, directly or indirectly. It is understandable that the case has stimulated so much interest because the Academy is an important economic place. and cultural, and plays a significant role in the community music ecosystem on a national scale.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of commentary in the press and on social media about all these issues, and there’s a level of political interest and concern. licensing, which requires a dispassionate approach, setting aside everything seen and heard and deciding the case based on the evidence in front of you.”
Kolvin pointed out that AMG, over 15 years, performed 45,000 shows across the country and entertained 39 million people in its 18 venues. Since the Asake concert tragedy, the group has performed another 1,642 shows and entertained 1.4 million people. AMG “takes safety very seriously and is not interested in taking shortcuts.”
“AMG has been a reputable and reliable operator for more than 25 years,” he said, “and it did not become an operator of dubious reputation and distrust overnight on December 15. What did they do to become an “operator was needed to understand. how this could have happened at one of his premises under his watch, and put measures in place to ensure it would not happen again.”
And he continued: “[Brixton Academy] It is an iconic venue where the best international artists have long been performing. As? Well, because of the physical characteristics of the venue – one of the biggest stages in Europe – but also because of the personal atmosphere of the auditorium. Partly because of the professionalism of the management, and partly because it is an important historical place.”
Despite alleged opposition from local police, Kolvin said “the Academy is not one of those places on the police radar.”
“In 2022, 174 shows were held, 108 of them sold out, and during that year there was a call for help from the police. Every venue has to call the police from time to time.”
Explaining how the center’s external security company, Showsec, rated him “among the best operators”, after working at the Academy for more than 20 years, Kolvin went on to describe on the risk assessment carried out before the Asake exhibition.
“It was decided that Asake was not Afrobeat[s] pure, as much as Afropop,” he said.
He later said: “When Asake escaped, there were no longer 120 security personnel, but 165. It was the highest number the Academy had ever had. It was the highest number the Academy had ever had. . There were five control dogs.”
Mr Kolvin QC said AMG was determined, as always, to make the Academy not only a “world-class music venue” but also a “place of safety”.
Ahead of the hearing, a number of industry figures spoke out in support of Brixton Academy.
“We wish our friends at Brixton Academy the best of luck in today’s hearing,” wrote fellow Londoner Troxy, “an important local, cultural and historical landmark and we are fully supporting this campaign and hope they get good story.”
On her behalf, London DJ and nightclub czar Amy Lamé wrote: “My thoughts are with the families and friends of Gaby and Rebecca and with the person who remains in a critical condition in hospital following the horrific events at Brixton Academy” .
“It is essential that venue operators, the police, the council and the community work together to understand what went wrong and ensure it does not happen again. During this week, Lambeth councilors will hear from a wide range of tests for several days.
He continued: “They will weigh that evidence against the requirements of the Licensing Act 2003 and decide whether the plans put forward by the venue’s operator – Academy Music Group (AMG) – will allow the venue to reopen safely.”
Lamé added: “Brixton Academy is an important live music venue much loved by artists, fans and the local community. Whatever the outcome of this week’s hearing, myself and the Mayor of London committed to working to ensure that the premises can reopen in safe conditions.
It is estimated that local businesses have lost around £500,000 every week since Lambeth Council suspended the license of O2 Academy Brixton in December 2022.
Gianluca Rizzo, Managing Director of Brixton Business District, previously told GB News: “We’ve calculated that the local economy is worth £2 billion, and 40% of that spending happens after 6pm.
“So the night economy is a huge contributor to Brixton, and the Academy is one of the main drivers of footfall and spend in the area.”
The hearing continues today and is expected to conclude tomorrow (September 12).
An online petition was then launched to combat the closure, and a number of artists and professionals in the sector also spoke out against the possibility of the venue closing. To date, the petition has received over 103,000 signatures.
The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) then launched a campaign together with Save Our Scene and Brixton BID to keep the O2 Brixton Academy open. You can support their campaign here.
The NTIA said the venue was “part of London’s cultural tapestry” and “one of the most famous venues in the UK, hosting royal performances from a diverse pool of internationally renowned 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, as well as countless award ceremonies and ambassador moments that represents the UK around the world.”