Facing Political Threats, UK Bars Launch New Association
At a time when prominent clubs are facing closure and the United Kingdom's highest-ranking police officer has recommended shutting bars down, the Night Time Industries Association hopes to give nightlife a better spin.
Nightlife is a big deal in the United Kingdom, and the country’s many dance clubs and pubs hope to keep it that way.
Their solution? A new association.
The new Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which launched in April in response to the recent closure of some prominent London clubs, hopes to turn the tide back in favor of the clubs where electronic dance music (EDM) found some of its earliest audiences, as well as concert halls and bars that draw huge crowds each weekend. NTIA says it will work to fend off the image issues that come with the nightlife industry—many of which club owners say are unfair.
“All the main political parties are saying they are pro-growth, pro-business, and pro-young people being employed, but the night-time economy is presented as creating crime and anti-social behavior whereas we think it is improving our cities by creating jobs, creating cultural capital, and paying business rates,” NTIA founder Alan Miller, who owned London’s Vibe nightclub for two decades, told The Guardian.
But the nightclub world is facing some negative press these days. In March, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe suggested that some pubs needed to be shut down as a way to control alcohol-related arrests.
“We need to make sure there is good control of the supply of alcohol,” he said during a speech to the Royal Society of Arts, according to The Independent. “This means license numbers, density, and licensee regulation being a priority for local authorities, however much they would like to develop their local economies.”
Critics shot back quickly—Telegraph commentator and club owner Alex Proud said the commissioner “made one of the most jaw-droppingly stupid suggestions I’ve heard in a long time”—but at a time when prominent clubs, including Miller’s Vibe, were already facing closures, Hogan-Howe’s suggestion added to NTIA’s messaging challenge.
The association has countered by touting statistics that show the nightlife industry’s economic impact: NTIA reports that the industry provides 8 percent of the U.K.’s employment and generates more than $100 billion U.S. dollars in yearly revenue. Miller noted to The Guardian that nightlife venues were often an early sign that a downtrodden neighborhood was on track to make a comeback.
NTIA isn’t the only group in the U.K. focused on this issue. Earlier this year the Music Venues Alliance launched in reaction to a spate of concert-hall closures in recent years.