NSW State Government announces a plan for 24-hr city

Sydney CBD at night (Photo: Patrick McLachlan, via Pexel)

The State government of NSW, Australia has announced a 24-hour economy strategy to reinvigorate Sydney’s nighttime industries and culture.

The strategy’s recommendations include appointing a coordinator-general to oversee Greater Sydney’s 24-hour economy, fewer restrictions on liquor licensing and live music, extended opening hours for cultural institutions and more late-night public transport options.

The strategy states:

“At its core, our objective is to create a 24-hour city that is world renowned for its vibrancy, diversity, safety and access to amenity right throughout the day and night. To compete on the world stage and create jobs, we must have a fantastic afterdark experience and 24-hour amenities for all to enjoy.

Our status as a 24-hour metropolis is critical as we continue to expand our economy to cater for the needs of a growing population and reinforce Sydney’s position as a truly global city, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which requires us all to reimagine how we use space and increase productivity throughout the 24-hours of each day.”

The announcement shows a positive shift in state government attitudes towards Sydney’s nighttime industries, which have suffered under years of draconian lock-out laws, hostile policy and rhetoric, and are currently in crisis due to COVID restrictions.

In further good news, Sydney City Council has also recently announced plans to help hospitality businesses spread outdoors in order to stay financially viable whilst complying with physical distancing regulations. The vision involves pedestrianising large sections of road in the inner city, and streamlining permission and licensing schemes for outdoor entertaining.

The Sydney plans mimic the al fresco drinking and dining experiments that have been successfully implemented in many northern hemisphere cities this summer, as explored in the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan’s first chapter.

Where the industry will be in one year’s time?

“I hope our customers are aware and engaged enough to voluntarily use the tools we offer and abide by the safety measures we ask of them. That we have created a good vibe amongst clubbing customers so that when preventative measures come down to us form the government, there is not pushback but acceptance that this is what needs to be done to keep the scene alive.” – Robbe van Bogaert

“In addition to physical spaces, I want to see greater equity in digital spaces. WE have an opportunity to put pressure on and collaborate with large tech companies to make the point for equity and survival amongst nightlife and music communities. Make sure the money being made in the digital space makes it to those communities is an important conversation in the coming year.” – Lauren Goshinski

“Perhaps if the pandemic continues Algoraves (virtual reality raves explored in chapter 2) will be part of the new normal. It’s also interesting to think about the consequences of dancing on serves hosted by amazon for example, and where the profit is going.”  – Alessio Koliulis

“ The pandemic has prompted the creation of new networks all over the world, it is only the ones with a shared vision and concrete goal that will survive. The work of the UK’s NTIA  (largely led by Michael Kill and Philip Kolvin QC, both on the call) is a great recent example of this. We have the occasion to create a shared strategy that can be adopted in every country, for example through data gathering, raising awareness and support through a communication campaign, then taking requests to the government to push for support and collaborate on solutions. An advocacy roadmap like this could be a great outcome. Ricardo Ramello

“We aim to find the balance between harm reduction and saving spaces. Socialisation will continue to happen anyway, so better to regulate it, and create controlled environments. We must readdress the role of police, and find ways to de-escalate situations without violence or police involvement and increase trust in the music and event industries”- Dr. Andreina Seijas, Harvard University

  • Chapter 6 of the GNRP will look at how governments can support nighttime businesses in the long-term. That support might look like financial grants or loans, but it might also include loosening restrictions on businesses, or providing other kinds of support (advocacy, promotion, greater access to decision makers).

We are actively seeking case studies and inputs from cities worldwide for inclusion in this chapter. 
We are currently running a global survey regarding different models of financial support for nightlife businesses in your area.

Nightlife organisations are organising the night across the world

Board members from nightlife organisations from across the globe provided an update on one big issue and possible solution in their community: here is an overview from our meet the authors call that took place last week:

Germany, LiveKomm/ Marc Wohlrabe 

  • Livekomm has worked to support clubs by convincing national and state governments to set up financial support schemes. 
  • Quite big difference between states, for example Berlin and Hamburg are best set up in terms of support, but less willing to adopt tracing technologies as places like Stutgart
  • Most clubs are surviving on support programs, and therefore not pushing too hard to reopen. The hope is these support schemes will protect clubs into early next year. 
  • Marc hopes by march/april there will be permissions for bigger open air events, is working on better systems to tackle noise, and trying to convince european networks to set up support programs for countries where the national government is not stepping up. 

Tokyo, JNEA/ Tak Umezawa 

  • Clubs were allowed to reopen at the end of June, with guidelines that made only around 35% capacity possible, obviously not sustainable. 
  • The big issue they are working on now is lobbying to loosen the excessive distancing guidelines, since Japan, compared to many places, is not doing too badly in terms of cases
  • As in many parts of the world, japanese artists have gone online to perform, what’s needed is a national system so Djs can more easily obtain licenses for recorded music. Currently it’s impossible to monetise online performances without legal issues. 

India, INCA / Aman Amand or Kenan

  • India is not in the best shape. has been in some form of lock down for 6 months, some states are opening up but infection rates remain extremely high so nightlife is a long way off. 
  • Deli reopening at 50% capacity and other provisos like table service and temperature checks. Goa is opening.
  • Recently secured a meeting with the minister for tourism to create an SOP that can work for the nightlife industry and the gov. But it’s baby steps at this point with infection rates still so high. 

USA, NIVA/ Rev. Moose

  • NIVA was a pandemic induced creation. Funding is still the biggest need.6 months in without any national support solution the majority of independent venues and promoters are on the verge of extinction. 
  • Save our Stages campaign has been very successful in raising awareness, and has plenty of support in congress. However the government is currently too dysfunctional to pass legislation, so action is not forthcoming. 
  • Considering the uncertainty, the most cost-effective solution for our members is to stay closed. We are continuing to lobby for financial aid, successfully on a city level in some areas. 
  • The formation of this organisation and others like it will really help the rebuilding process. 

Australia, ALMBC / Phil Brown

  • “Another new organisation, just over 2 months old, ALMBC is repping the whole supply chain of live music as well as venues and events, focusing on grass roots level. 
  • The biggest challenge is funding, the national arts package was announced months ago but as yet nothing has reached anyone. 
  • A poll they undertook shows 70% of venues won’t last another 6 months without aid. 
  • ALMBC have established fortnightly meetings with the government to impress the urgency and build bridges between industry and gov. 
  • Disparity in state restrictions and border closures have created serious challenges for the events industry. Inconsistencies in how border closures are enforced, for example exemptions have been granted to professional sports players but not musicians. The ALMBC are working on a breakthrough on that front now.
  • Guidelines vary so much between states, and week to week, they have established a national gig-read dashboard, central point for information on restrictions, data, border closures, all over Australia, that are relevant to events, nightlife and the music sector. 

UK, NTIA/ Michael Kill 

  • “When bars and pubs were allowed to reopen in July, nightclubs were excluded. Let Us Dance campaign was launched, pushing DCMS (cultural department) to understand the value of nightclubs in UK culture. Had to fight contentiously alongside AFEM and celebrities etc to ensure the 1.57 billion arts relief package was accessible to club spaces too. 
  • The NITA commissioned a science based independent assessment on the reopening of dance floors from the institute of occupational medicine, this, alongside data about the looming reality of mass closures and collapse, fortified the industry’s position and arguments with the government.
  • Government is now finally at a point where they are willing and keen to step up. Got there by creating a clear narrative about the immediate future, eg illegal raves aren’t going to disappear, they are likely to now head inside with the change in weather, making it all the more urgent to provide regulated alternatives, backed by scientific evidence, to transition into reengaging the industry at some level, even if it’s only to break even.”

Andreina, on the overall purpose of the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan

“The purpose is to connect themes and get questions answered. We must not forget there is a broader precedent here, the disappearance of clubbing spaces and business over the last 15 years, which has been accelerated by this crisis.We can’t forget this was an ongoing problem, and we must use this opportunity to put nightlife policy on the radar, dispel any ambiguity, bring data to the forefront so policymakers can better understand what these spaces are for and what they need.”

“We aim to find the balance between harm reduction and saving spaces. Socialisation will continue to happen anyway, so better to regulate it, and create controlled environments. We must readdress the role of police, and find ways to de-escalate situations without violence or police involvement and increase trust in the music and event industries”

Belgium, Robbe van Bogaert, chapter contributor,  discusses the work of his organisation Vibecare:

Vibecare launched 2 years ago, in recognition of a need for venues and promoters to take better care of the positive experience and safety of their customers. 

It combines 3 key areas of knowledge: crowd management, atmosphere management and body language, the latter even more relevant now due to widespread adoption of masks. 

5 stages to consider: 

1) Pre arrival and arrival. Who is in front of your building, what are they wearing, what information do people need before they arrive? 

2) Inside the venue. How will staff behave?

3) Circulation. How is movement controlled inside your venue? Are you creating queues? How can you make movement smoother?

4) The exit process. What feeling will you leave your customer with so they want to return? What communication do you pass on to ensure they respect the neighbours?

5) Outside the venue. How will people make their way home? Are there staff on the streets to address noise levels and help people disperse in a vibe-positive way?

What chapters are coming next?

  • 24 hour activity
  • Rise of nighttime governance
  • Financial and other forms of support for individuals and businesses
  • Data gathering and model sharing

Know of any good case studies in your area that relate the above? 

Tell us about it at jess@vibe-lab.org

Creative solutions to keep nightclubs in business

“Last week Global Nighttime Recovery Plan published its report, The Future of Dancefloors, stating “diversification of activities can be key” and cited the London venue Village Underground‘s pandemic adapted business model of a secure bicycle parking facility.

In Berlin, “financial help from the State only covers one or two months at a time, so clubs are being very creative. Comedy, music and theater events are planned and bar Sage Beach and the KitKatClub are working on a seated outdoor fetish festival,” said Lutz Leichsenring of Berlin’s Club Commission.”

Berghain Exhibition

Spread across the dance floor, Berghain’s vast Halle, two bars and even the bathrooms, the exhibition — fittingly for a city that has the highest density of artists in Europe — aims to be “a celebration of Berlin as a studio,” said Christian Boros. 

Among the 115 works, some such as Tacita Dean’s commemorative postcard print for the year 2020 depicting shit falling from the sky and Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili’s polaroids of cut flowers (the only work the artist could fit in around caring for her children during lockdown) refer directly to the pandemic.

Some artists mine their relationships with the venue: Couple Petrit Halilaj and Álvaro Urbano first met at Berghain and have hung an oversized pink paper lily over the very spot; He Xiangyu has a favorite corner at one of the bars next to which now stands a plaster sculpture of himself as a small boy about to open his first can of soda.

Berghain itself provides the canvas for works such as Cyprien Gaillard’s engraving Land of Cockaign (made directly into the metal end panel of a toilet stall) and Emeka Ogboh’s sound installation of Lagos street recordings plays through the club’s sound system. 

And Berghain is not alone in turning to art to get the public back on its dance floors: Legendary gay club SchwuZ is also opening an art exhibition on September 9, a solo presentation of paintings by German artist Fausto.

Read the full article in DW

Berghain club reborn as a gallery: GNRP highlights such creative business model pivots

With nightlife in limbo due to Covid-19, the legendary temple of techno has reinvented itself as art gallery – with works by Tacita Dean, Olafur Eliasson, Wolfgang Tillmans and more

“If a new report by nightlife consultancy VibeLab is anything to go by, collaborations like these will have to be part of the new normal. Their “Global Nighttime Recovery Plan”, co-written by an international panel of night mayors, academics and music promoters, suggests more clubs need to perform “creative business model pivots” like Berghain in order to maintain revenue while the clubbing experience is impossible.”

Read the full feature here

Creative Bureaucracy launch the first survey on creativity in government

How creative are government organizsations across the world?

Creative Bureaucracy are calling on all government employees to share their experiences and ideas.

Bureaucracy is an inherently rule-bound type of organisation.

Is thinking outside the box even possible in this context?

Margie Caust, friend of the festival and co-author of The Creative Bureaucracy (2017) has designed the very first Global Survey on Creativity in Government.

“We’re curious about how public employees feel about their creativity at work – given the challenges we face and the contributions people could bring. We are taking the pulse of the creative bureaucracy.”

Margie Caust,

The survey is open from now until September and is calling in all public servants out there to participate.

The results will be presented at the Creative Bureaucracy Festival 2020 in front of a global audience.

Read more about it here

Take part in the survey here

Club Reopening Update: How to build more flexible innovative dance floors?

Across the globe dance floors are reopening, albeit in different formats to the way we remember. Today the second instalment of the Global Nighttime Recovery Plan is launched with a focus on:

  • Creative businesses model pivots to maintain revenue while the clubbing experience is impossible
  • Responsible virus transmission mitigation tactics to make clubbing safe and enjoyable for patrons, staff and surrounding residents
  • Innovative VR experiments to strengthen the nightlife community and test digital boundaries
  • An equality framework tool to aid venues and promoters in analysing and improving their inclusivity during the pandemic and beyond

The impossibility of sharing physical dance floors has fostered experimentation, and forced the development of complementary activities and alternatives to stay alive, raise awareness, encourage conversation, build networks and collaborations among artists and venues.


Re-Opening Update

 Croatia – Clubs are open, but only until midnight. Open Air Bars are Open regularly

– Hungary – Clubs are open again

– Czech Republic – Clubs are open again

– Iceland – Clubs are open again but 100 capacity Limit

– Slovakia – Clubs are open again

– UK – clubs are completely closed

– Belgium – clubs are completely closed

– Netherlands – clubs are still closed and only allowed to open with seated shows

– Lithuania – Clubs are open again

– South Africa – all closed we have curfew from 10pm

– Latvia – Clubs are open again

– Estonia – Clubs are open again since 1.7. large festival are running again

– Germany – Outside areas of clubs are open (Max 1000 capacity)

– Serbia – first opened, then closed again, now open until 1am

– Spain – clubs are completely closed

– Italy – clubs are completely closed

– Austria – 1am curfew for all venues. no masks indoor if less than 100people OR table reservations and distancing measures

– Switzerland – Clubs are open again (different capacity limits depending on cantons)

If we have missed out your city, or you have news, and updates to provide please reach out jess@vibe-lab.org

Read more about Chapter 2 of the GNRP: The Future of Dance floors here