The battle to save London's nightlife gained ground today, as London Mayor Sadiq Khan appointed a Night Czar, a position aimed at solidifying night time economy and culture amid an increase in closing venues in the British capital. In an announcement made at Soho's iconic music venue 100 Club, Khan appointed performer and cultural advocate Amy Lamé to the new position, at a small event with Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries Justine Simons, industry and press.
The Night Czar position will be the first of its kind for the UK, a move following in the footsteps of other major cultural capitals like Amsterdam and Berlin who have designated Night Mayors to act as an ambassador for the nighttime industries, working with local councils, venues, and the public. Lamé brings eclectic experience to the role, having worked in the industry for twenty years, from television and radio presenting, to her performance art group Duckie.
Having previously campaigned to save The Royal Vauxhall Tavern—a fight still being fought, she says—Lamé will be working towards making London a 24-hour city, expected to contribute £28.3bn to its annual GDP by 2029, according to a report by London First.
Taking to the stage at 100 Club, the same one shared by the Sex Pistols years before, Lamé said, "My life in London is nightlife. I've seen just about everything that there is to see happen in the darkness here, so not much phases me. I'm absolutely thrilled to be appointed the Night Czar. We face some challenges but I'm ready absolutely 100 per cent to take those on." Lamé is planning a series of month "Night Surgeries" to begin conversation with those involved in London's night scene.
"I'm looking forward to working with the boroughs, police, my colleagues at City Hall, business and punters around the capital," she said. "I'm 100 per cent the Night Czar for all Londoners."
In September of this year nightclub fabric was shut down, reflecting a trend that has seen 50 per cent of nightclubs and 40 per cent of live music venues close in the last 8 years.
"Fabric is a case study in how, surely, it's possible for us to speak to people to stop an issue becoming a problem before it does," said Khan. "In future cases, it's important to get the nightclub owner, the council, the licensing committee, the police, the residents and others together [to] discuss these things."
Lamé agrees with positive hopes for the future.
"Fabric is only representative of what is happening around the rest of the city," said Lamé. "Fabric is just one particular example. It's symbolic because it's such an important club and I know that Sadiq and I are of the same view that we'd really like to see it reopened."