In light of the recent news, it felt appropriate to discuss the importance of pubs, clubs, and the British nightlife/hospitality sector as a whole. The damage that has been done to the hospitality sector poses a huge threat to the industry, but certain circumstances could see these problems alleviated.
To put into context how important the hospitality industry is the the U.K., a recent study showed that the industry employed around 2.9 million people, that is approximately 9% of the UK workforce. Meanwhile, the hospitality and tourism workforce makes up 8.4%, meaning that the disruptions and chaos that came with COVID-19 has seen almost a fifth of the UK population left furloughed, or even made redundant. Should problems prevail, and with senior hospitality executives anticipating potential mass closures there could mean an overall reduction in the number of pubs, clubs, and restaurants by some 20–30%.
While the night clubs may not have appeared in the news as frequently as the much sought-after pubs, a number of stakeholders believe the end of late nights out would not just shake the core of the hospitality sector, but of the entire British culture. Peter Marks, chief executive of Europe’s largest late-night operator, explained that you simply can not have one without the other. The two together complement each other perfectly. He stated: “The pubs understand that clubs play a role in their success, and likewise we like to work with the pubs because we know if we’re the only man standing in a town centre where all the pubs and bars have closed, we can’t survive either.”
Some venues have been fortunate enough to benefit from the government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, with London nightclub Fabric receiving £1.5m, while billionaire Elisabeth Murdoch is bankrolling the restoration of Camden nightspot KOKO after it was ravaged by fire earlier this year. Whereas over in mainland Europe, in the heart of Berlin, the hospitality sector has been finding innovative ways of attempting to create an income.
The infamous Berghain opened its doors in September, allowing anyone to inspect the work from 115 artists, whilst creating the traditional Bergson setting. As for KitKatClub, the space was used to set up an impressive testing site, renting their outdoor spaces to provide an income during the pandemic. Lutz Leichsenring of KitKatClub explained: “(Our work) was always to have more tools to make nightlife spaces safer, because at the moment the only tools we have are masks and distancing and maybe ventilation.”
However, there is one initiative that is flying high above the rest. SaveNightLife is a movement highlighting the social and cultural significance of nightlife and other associated arts. Targeting mainly the clubbing and the electronic music scene, SNL aims to secure recognition for the community by elevating its voice and substantiating its value, not just in terms of contribution to the economy, but also for its essential cultural value, both nationally and internationally. Supported by a variety of cross-genre DJs, artists, venues, promoters, and industry leaders, the initiative provides a supporting, inclusive, and representative ecosystem for everyone who lives, works, and plays within the industry.
The government-mandated shutdown of the hospitality sector was responsible for a quarter of the GDP losses felt by UK businesses in April, according to the CGA’s latest UKHospitality tracker. The opposite effect could be equally as dramatic, and with an end in sight, the nightmare could soon end for the hospitality industry. Once more, the public have a huge part to play when normality is resumed. They must protect the pubs/bars, festivals, and after-dark landscapes that are so vital to thriving, vibrant cities across the world.
AT THE VERY EARLIEST
- Pubs will open outdoors on the 12th May
- Clubs will open on the 21st June