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New campaign launched to save Brixton Academy from closure

‘The loss of this venue would be catastrophic for the industry’

By Hollie Geraghty

Police forensic investigators seen outside Brixton Academy after a crowd crush during an Asake concert in Brixton. (Photo by Alamy/Thabo Jaiyesimi / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

A fresh campaign has been launched to save Brixton Academy from permanent closure.

Last month, the Met Police called for the permanent closure of the South London music venue following a crowd crush that killed two people last December.

The venue’s licence was initially suspended by Lambeth Council in January following the deaths of security guard Gaby Hutchinson, 23, and Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who were killed in a crush as fans tried to force entry into an Asake show. A third person was also critically injured.

The scene outside Brixton O2 Academy where police are investigating the circumstances which led to four people sustaining critical injuries in an apparent crush as a large crowd tried to force their way into the south London concert venue. (Picture: Alamy)

In response, a petition was launched on which has now surpassed 100,000 signees.

Now, a new campaign has now been launched by Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) alongside Save Our Scene and Brixton BID to help save the venue from closure.

“Brixton Academy has been part of the cultural tapestry of London,” the NTIA website reads, adding that it has hosted thousands of British and international artists over the years like Stone Roses, David Bowie and The Prodigy, along with “American greats” like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Green Day.

It added that the venue now welcomes “performance royalty from a hugely diverse internationally acclaimed pool of talent” like Eddie Izzard, Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Little Simz, Arctic Monkeys, Burna Boy, Rihanna and more.

It went on: “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.”

The campaign also highlighted the how “the potential impact of this closure would have huge ramifications within the local economy”.

Bicep live at Brixton Academy (Picture: Luke Dyson)

“We cannot lose sight of the tragic incident that occurred in December , but would respectfully ask that the Authorities consider working with AMG and the venue to learn from what has happened and enhance the licence and safety measures to ensure that this never happens again.”

Michael Kill, CEO of NTIA, said: “The loss of this venue would be catastrophic for the industry, so would 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.”

Gianluca Rizzo, managing director of Brixton BID added: “Brixton Academy is one of the most iconic music venues in the UK and beyond. Whilst artists dream about performing in Brixton, our business community is proud to be home of such venue. Not only it is one of our key cultural destinations, the Brixton Academy contributes positively to the local economy as well as opportunities for our community. We stand by the Brixton Academy.”

George Fleming, CEO of Save Our Scene, said their worry is that “if the council & government continues to undermine culture and close down venues, we could see the industry move further underground where there is not the same level of regulation or safety. All they have to do is look at what happened in the 90s”.

Jim Bob of Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine – who played at the venue 15 times between 1990 to 2014 – was among musicians to voice their support for the original petition. Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, he said said the proposed closure seems “sudden” and that it would be a “shame” to see the venue permanently shuttered. “It’s a great venue,” he added, sharing that performing at the South London venue was always like “coming home” for his band.

Yesterday (May 14), The Prodigy also spoke out about the proposed closure. “Brixton Academy is our home,” they wrote on social media. “What happened there a few months ago was tragic & very serious lessons need to be learnt from it. It’s the venue that has been at the heart of our band, the one that we have played the most and where fans from all around the world come to see us play.”