Rainbow Venues welcome Police Commissioner’s drug policy proposal

Promoters back way forward to help Birmingham nightlife.

The team behind The Rainbow Venues in Birmingham has welcomed recommendations for a new regional drug policy put forward by West Midlands Police Commissioner David Jamieson.

The globally recognised Digbeth-based live music, club and mixed arts spaces launched the Educate Not Revocate campaign in January 2018 following a heavily criticised council decision to revoke its licence in late November 2017.

Educate Not Revocate calls for a more progressive approach to the licensing of live music venues and clubs across the UK along with better harm reduction strategies from agencies and further partnership working with organisations to improve safety and welfare throughout the night-time economy landscape.

A video statement released on Thursday 18 January 2018 by The Rainbow Venues announcing the initiative has been viewed almost 100,000 times. Educate Not Revocate has also received support from UK superclub fabriclondon, the Night-Time Industries Association, primary ticket outlet Skiddle, as well as internationally-renowned DJs Jamie Jones, Hannah Wants and Toddla T.

The document outlining West Midlands Police Commissioner David Jamieson’s proposals shared earlier this week include:

– Joining-up police, community safety and public health funding streams to increase efficiency and improve outcomes for those suffering from addiction.

– Introducing on-site testing in night-time economy areas to reduce the number of deaths and increase the authorities’ intelligence of drugs in circulation.

Lee McDonald, co-founder of The Rainbow Venues, praised Jamieson’s move, explaining, “Pioneering effective new ways of reducing harm for those enjoying and working in our night time economies has been at the core of our business, and subsequently the Educate Not Revocate campaign for some time now.”

“The Rainbow Venues has operated under some of the most stringent conditions of any licence for a number of years until our recent revocation. We have repeatedly called for better communication between agencies and more funding for those working on the front line to prevent drug misuse in society. Both are vital to the regional and national policing and licensing debate.”

“Whilst we welcome the Commissioner’s recommendation, we do question the apparent disparity in approaches to policing and licensing across West Midlands Police’s force and call for a more joined-up approach both now and in future, to prevent any further damage to Birmingham’s night time economy.”

As a direct result of Birmingham City Council’s decision to revoke their licence on Monday 28th November 2017 at the request of West Midlands Police, The Rainbow Venues have been forced to stop investing in venue operations in its home city and have announced their return to the live music promotion industry elsewhere in the UK.

“Our business will return full circle to the position from where we originally started,” Lee McDonald said, “Working with emerging and established artists, bands and labels to produce extraordinary and memorable experiences for music fans and clubbers across the country under The Rainbow Events.”

“Unfortunately, appealing the licence revocation decision has come at a great cost to us. It is with genuine sadness and regret that we will be relinquishing control of most of The Rainbow Venues’ estate to a number of different operators.”

Further announcements regarding those operators will be made in due course.

The Educate Not Revocate campaign has launched at a pivotal time for live music in the UK, following the highly-publicised closure and subsequent reopening of London superclub fabriclondon under similar conditions in 2016, and the recent industry success in securing a Parliamentary review of planning legislation to reduce impact from residential developments on live music venues.

The Rainbow Venues, itself a significant employer, creative incubator and economic force in Birmingham’s creative quarter of Digbeth, is asking supporters for help in calling for a more progressive approach to UK venue licensing.

Educate Not Revocate aims to raise awareness of drug misuse, harm reduction, youth culture and to improve communication between agencies and authorities, as well as preserving the venues’ significant contribution to regional and national culture through its work with live music promoters, theatre companies, film production companies, street food markets, community groups, independent creatives and other artistic partners.

Lee McDonald will be speaking at the NTIA-organised Sharing, Caring and Networking: Place Making and the Night Time Economy in Birmingham and the Midlands event at The Jamhouse in Birmingham on Tuesday 27th February.