Brixton Academy gets support of huge music names amid fears local economy to be crushed if venue loses licence

GB News

Theo Chikomba

By Theo Chikomba

Published: 22/05/2023

- 11:00

The Met Police has called for the O2 Academy Brixton to have its licence revoked

The Prodigy, Muse and Skunk Anansie are among established artists supporting more than 20,000 music fans demanding Lambeth Council let the Brixton Academy keep its licence.

The venue has been closed since a fatal crush took place at the venue on December 15 last year. Two people died following a crowd surge outside the south London music venue during a show by Afro-pop singer Asake.

The Met Police has called for the O2 Academy Brixton to have its licence revoked. The Academy Music Group (AMG) which runs the venue, has submitted proposals to Lambeth Council which they say, “will enable the venue to reopen safely”.

Gaby Hutchinson, 23, from Gravesend in Kent, who worked as a security contractor on the night and mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33 from Newham, East London both died in the crush.

George Fleming

George Fleming from Save Our Scene said it was 'vital' Brixton Academy kept its licence

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The Night Time Industries Association have collaborated with Save Our Scene campaign the Brixton BID collective of local businesses to urge music fans and the community to vocalise their support for the Brixton Academy to the local authority.

Michael Kill, the Chief Executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “I have hundreds of conversations with people on this campaign journey, across all walks of life, journalists, bankers, nurses, builders, barista etc. about their experiences at the Academy.

"People are emotionally invested in this venue and it’s clear they are not willing to give it up without a fight.”

He added: “It’s been a pinnacle moment for many people within their careers, I mean Ian Brown suggested it was probably one of the biggest performances that he’s ever had. He absolutely loves this space.

"We’ve also got to remember that it’s going to leave a void in the cultural economy, considerable gap in the touring capability, people are going to lose jobs. There’s one less platform for not only domestic and international artists to perform. But, also for new talent to aspire to perform."

It’s also been backed by the events and media organisation, Save Our Scene. They argue that the response to the campaign highlights the public’s desire for the venue to have a future.

George Fleming, its CEO said: “This campaign ‘Save Brixton Academy’ is vital. This venue is a huge part of not only the local economy but the arts in general. For artists coming through, for people to enjoy, you know we have to protect these venues.

"If you don’t protect them, all you’re going to be doing is displacing a community, you can’t stop the party it’s just a matter of where it goes. So, we are urging Lambeth Council in this case, to come to the table and work with the Academy on making the necessary changes to keep this venue open.

"Obviously, a lot of changes need to be made, we need to make sure it’s safe to operate, but there is a solution."

Since its closure it’s also had an impact on local businesses who thrive when shows take place, according to local business experts.

Gianluca Rizzo, the Brixton Business District Managing Directors says: "We have assessed that the local economy worth £2billion pounds, with 40 per cent of that spend happening after 6pm.

"So, it’s a huge contribution that the nighttime economy plays for Brixton – with the Academy being one of the key drivers of that footfall and spend in the area."

\u200bGianluca Rizzo

Gianluca Rizzo warned Brixton Academy played a big part in the local economy

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Lambeth Council has appointed former council Chief Executive Paul Martin to independently lead the Council’s health and safety investigation into the incident. He has been working closely with the Metropolitan Police since the start of the year.

At the same time, the council is also reviewing licensable activities at the venue, and the Met Police are investigating the major incident.

Bayo Dosunmu, Lambeth Council’s Chief Executive, said: “We are very mindful of the profound impact this incident has had on many people who were present at the O2 Academy on that night and on the family and loved ones of the two people who tragically lost their lives that evening, and the person that remains in a critical condition.

“In order that Lambeth Council rigorously and independently investigates what happened on that evening, I have asked one of London’s most experience former Chief Executives to lead on the health and safety investigation on behalf of the council, working closely with the Metropolitan Police."

A separate online petition called ‘Save Brixton Academy’ has amassed over 111,000 signatures, which has been started and supported by music fans across the country.

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