The O2 Academy Brixton (cap. 4,921) can be reopened and its operator can retain its license as long as new operating and licensing conditions, set out by Lambeth Council, are met.
Following a two-day hearing, Lambeth Council’s Licensing Sub-Committee said it would permit the O2 Brixton Academy to re-open, but only once it has met 77 conditions designed to promote public safety, and the safety of employees.
Stronger doors, new crowd management systems, more detailed risk assessments, a new ticketing system, a new centralised control and command centre as well as new security and management at the venue, were among the measures proposed by the venue’s operator, Academy Music Group (AMG), at the hearing to support its aim of regaining the venue’s licence so it can re-open.
The Grade II listed O2 Academy Brixton has been closed since a crowd crush at the venue on 15 December during a show by Nigerian artist Asake resulted in two dead and the serious injury of a third person who remains hospitalised.
Lambeth’s cabinet member for safer communities Cllr Dr Mahamed Hashi said, “At the hearing the council’s licensing officers asked that AMG’s initial proposals were greatly strengthened. This was accepted by the operator. In total, 77 conditions have been agreed by the sub-committee to allow re-opening.
“The investigation into whether any criminal offences have been committed is being led by the Met Police, and their work continues. Lambeth Council will do everything we can to support this police investigation so that there are answers and justice for the families of Rebecca Ikumelo and Gabrielle Hutchinson who tragically lost their lives at the Academy in December.
“AMG will now need to put in place the agreed measures to enable the re-opening of this much-loved local venue, which is a key part of Brixton’s cultural heritage and has been enjoyed by millions. We will be working to closely monitor all licensing conditions to ensure that safety is at the forefront of the venue’s future operations.
“In making its decision the sub-committee was clear that its role wasn’t to assign blame or punishment on individuals or other bodies for past failings. It is not to exonerate them either. Their decision had to focus on what, if any, appropriate measures are needed for the venue to safely re-opening in the future. They also emphasised that their decision was based solely on what was put before them at the hearing.”
The Met Police issued a statement that said it had never been its aim to ask for the venue to be permanently closed: “We absolutely recognise the cultural importance of it and its place at the heart of Lambeth.”
The news has been warmly welcomed by many across the live music, and wider events, industry. With its Art Deco interior and Europe’s largest fixed stage, the O2 Academy Brixton has hosted countless landmark shows by acts ranging from Madonna to the Sex Pistols, Radiohead and the Rolling Stones. Artists such as The Prodigy, Muse and Skunk Anansie alongside media brands and more than 115,000 music fans had petitioned to keep the Academy open.
Save Our Scene CEO George Fleming said, “We are feeling a huge sense of relief that Brixton Academy is safeguarded for the future, as will many others.”
“We recognise this was a tragic case and welcome all of the new safety measures which have been implemented by AMG and Lambeth Council.”
“The public support for this venue has been immense and we’d like to thank everyone who rallied together and signed the various petitions and campaigns.”
“It’s essential we look after our cultural spaces. They are the lifeblood of this country, which so many of us depend on. With one in three venues closing down in the past four years and operating costs now 40% higher than pre-pandemic levels, we’re extremely worried about the future of UK arts & culture. We are urging the UK Government and local authorities to recognise the importance of this sector and the role it plays in people’s lives. We must act and stand up before it’s too late.”