Simeon Aldred, CEO, Vibration Group
There is no one-size-fits-all model to successfully launching a new venue. Acquiring all the necessary licensing and planning rights can seem an elaborate web of processes. Our specialism at Venue Lab is being able to strip away this complexity. Working with landlords and councils, we’ve driven two key elements that we know will propel a venue’s long-term success.
First, it’s essential to understand a venue’s identity and sense of place. How will the venue talk to the public? How will it relate to their interests and resonate with their wants?
It’s vital to think about the impact and meaning a new space will have to the people who visit it. When we conceived Printworks, we knew that the venue needed to be a cultural magnet. We wanted to inspire creative minds, attracting diverse talent to an imaginative space unlike any other in London.
Because we recognised Printworks’ identity early on, we could build on its USP. The initial step to launching a successful venue is to think about what it will become famous for.
When we established Printworks’ purpose, we created a super-simple brand with an offering that the market could easily understand. As a massive warehouse with an industrial aesthetic, we positioned it as a ‘cultural space for London’. A year after launching, the market recognised our simple proposition: Printworks is a great music space which is also available for hire and super-versatile.
From this starting block, we’ve worked hard with our partners Broadwick Live to get the brand right, investing in the space, the content, our partnerships and all comms around the shows. Unlike Printworks, some venues have developed their brand and place over a hundred years or more. They already have a legacy and it’s important to tap into this established identity whilst also evolving it.
Above all, the long-term success of a space is only sustainable if everyone visiting the space understands what the building is going to do for them; how is it going to make them feel.
After creating a solid identity, it’s essential to look at how the space behaves. How does the space effect everyone? We acquire great licences and planning consents by developing a venue that will be beneficial to all. Central to our strategy is safety and consultation. We don’t open a space without talking to local residents and addressing their concerns.
This is not a box-ticking exercise. The license is irrelevant if we are causing nuisance to neighbours. In our view, that’s not fulfilling the license’s objectives. Many venues show their neighbours a piece of paper in answer to complaints and state ’we have a licence’. That’s just not ethical and it’s certainly not sustainable.
The licence is just a practical document; the minimum requirement in law. Achieving the license is just the starting point. Full integration into a community is the only way a space will achieve long-term success and become a real place. Place is not just a building.