Figures reveal LGBTQ+ venue numbers remain stable for a second year
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today revealed that the number of LGBTQ+ venues in London has remained stable for a second year running, following a decade of decline.
Ahead of Pride celebrations this weekend, the Mayor has published figures showing that the number of LGBTQ+ venues in London has stabilised at 51.
Sadiq has pledged to do all he can to protect the capital’s LGBTQ+ nightlife after the number of LGBTQ+ venues decreased by 62 per cent from 124 in 2006 to just 47 in 2017.
The figures, part of City Hall’s annual audit of cultural and night-time venues, show encouraging signs for the future with two LGBTQ+ venues opening in London in the last year. However, two venues closed, with many others still operating in challenging circumstances, with rising rents and business rates and pressure from new developments.
The stabilisation of venue numbers in the last two years follows support from the Mayor and his Night Czar Amy Lamé. This includes publishing in the Mayor’s draft London Plan the most pro-LGBTQ+ pub framework the capital has ever seen, and establishing a world-first Culture at Risk Office which has already supported 350 cultural spaces across the capital at risk of closure - helping secure the future of LGBTQ+ venues including The City of Quebec and G-A-Y.
Part of the role of the Night Czar is to act as a mediator between venue owners, developers and pub companies, and this week Amy brought together the founders of XXL and Southwark Council to try to find a way forward to support the popular night club and secure its future, following a planning decision that was made by the previous Mayor.
The Mayor and Night Czar also created City Hall’s LGBTQ+ Venues Charter – with 55 per cent of venues now signed up. The charter aims to help safeguard the future of London’s LGBTQ+ nightlife by providing practical support for developers, venues and pub companies in order to help protect venues at risk of closure or changing use, and encourage the opening of new venues. Venues including G-A-Y, Soho, Dalston Superstore in Hackney and Ye Olde Rose and Crown in Greenwich have signed up, as well as two of London’s largest pub companies - Greene King and Stonegate.
In order to further support the wide variety of LGBTQ+ nightlife on offer across London, City Hall has for the first time collated a list of venues that put on regular LGBTQ+ focused events, such as Scala in Kings Cross, Soho Theatre in Westminster and The Cause in Haringey. This forms part of the Mayor’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan, which aims to protect and grow London’s cultural venues – from dance rehearsal spaces, to community centres and grassroots music venues. This new database of LGBTQ+ nightlife will help safeguard these venues during planning decisions, as their LGBTQ+ programming can be taken into account during the required equalities assessments.
The Mayor also continues to support Drinkaware for the UK-first LGBTQ+ pilot to support the welfare of those on a night out. 35 staff from six London venues have already been trained in helping vulnerable people on a night out and more venues will be undergoing training in the summer.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s a privilege to be the Mayor of a city which is such a beacon across the world for openness and diversity. In these increasingly troubled times, we must ensure our hard-fought rights are defended and protected. LGBTQ+ venues play a vital role in supporting the community and that’s why we’ve been working hard to protect these spaces with the capital’s most pro-LGBTQ+ planning strategy ever, appointing London’s first Night Czar and establishing a world-first Culture at Risk Office. It’s encouraging to see a halt in the decline of these venues over the last two years, but we know there is more hard work to be done to ensure LGBTQ+ night-life across the city can flourish.”
London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, said: “I am pleased to see the encouraging sign that the number of LGBTQ+ venues has remained stable for the second year running. I’ve been working hard to protect and support London’s vital LGBTQ+ venues, and alongside the Culture at Risk Office, we have supported more than 250 night-time spaces at risk in London over the past two years. While this year’s figure offers reassurance, it is also clear that there is more work to do be done to ensure London’s LGBTQ+ venues can continue to open their doors and that new venues and LGBTQ+ events can establish themselves across the city.”
Drinkaware Chief Executive Elaine Hindal said: “We’re delighted that, ahead of Pride in London, our training has been delivered on a pilot basis in six LGBTQ+ venues, with plans to include more over the summer. The training was based on our successful Drinkaware Crew programme, which supports vulnerable people on a night out and has been adapted with input from stakeholders across the LGBTQ+ community in London. It has been well received by those venues taking part, and we look forward to rolling it out to more outlets.”
Laurie Belgrave, founder of The Chateau, Camberwell, said: “For too long we have been told that queer nightlife is in decline and that the spaces that form such a crucial part of our culture and social support are being erased, but at The Chateau we are seeking to bring a positive narrative into the LGBTQ+ scene through creative creation of space and radical programming that centres on the most marginalised voices in our community. What began as a two-month DIY queer pop-up has evolved, and this month we celebrate our first birthday. While there are still many challenges faced by LGBTQ+ venues and nightlife organisations, there is a new spirit of change and innovation, with organisations such as BBZ, Pxssy Palace and Transmissions reflecting the direct needs of our community and creating radical space for LGBTQ+ people across the capital."
Joseph Williams, MD of ParaPride, said: “We are encouraged to see the results of the commitment of the Mayor's office to stabilise the number of LGBTQ+ spaces operating in our city. As an organisation, we believe that all people in our society should feel welcome and safe, socially. It is great to see LGBTQ+ venues included in the Cultural Infrastructure map and we look forward to working with GLA and Attitude is Everything to improve the social experience of people with disabilities in our city."
Notes to editors
The Mayor and his Night Czar, Amy Lamé, have set out a series of measures to help LGBTQ+ venues in London. This has included publishing the most pro-LGBTQ+ planning framework the capital has ever seen in the Mayor’s draft London Plan, establishing a world-first ‘Culture at Risk’ Office to help save venues for communities; making the protection of venues an urgent priority, with the Night Czar acting as a mediator between venue owners, developers and pub companies; committing to an annual audit of venues; and launching the LGBTQ+ Venues Charter.
The audit for 2018/2019 revealed that London has 51 LGBTQ+ venues. The data for this year has revised previously listed as four venues to two venues, as two clubs have a shared licence and premises.
Two venues closed in 2018/2019: Her Upstairs and Them Downstairs, and Bloc South
Two venues opened in 2018/2019 CMYK and The Chateau.
For more details visit: https://maps.london.gov.uk/cim/index.html
Further information on the LGBT venues charter: https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/arts-and-culture/lgbt-nightlife-venues
For more on the Drinkaware project visit www.drinkaware.co.uk/lgbtsupport