A national campaign to protect live music venues is throwing itself into the ongoing noise row between Northern Quarter residents and the Night and Day Café.
The Music Venue Trust’s petition, founded earlier this year, calls for an urgent review of current noise abatement legislation affecting many city centre bars and live music haunts across the country.
It works to protect the UK’s live music network amid growing issues from the apparent ‘misuse’ of current rules – which they believe threatens to choke off grass-root music scenes.
The petition gained more than 4,000 signatures in just two-days, and the trust’s founder and CEO Mark Davyd spoke to MM about the tensions caused by unworkable rules.
“Nearly everyone involved in the Night and Day issue would probably agree with us that this legislation is not serving its purpose,” he said.
“The people who complain about noise will say it is not working, and those who receive complaints agree legislation is not working.”
The laws currently in place to protect neighbourhoods and the environment are ‘just not working’ according to Mark and end up costing the venues a ‘fortune’.
“Each of the rules by themselves are OK but all together they do not make sense,” he said. “They need to be clearer, we need to know where responsibility lies and more importantly than that there really needs to be more guidance from central government.”
Night and Day, which has showcased bands such as Kasabian, Snow Patrol and The Charlatans since 1991, pride themselves as a hub of Manchester’s music scene.
However residents living nearby have made numerous complaints about noise levels saying they have been left feeling ‘trapped in their own home’ and now want the bar’s music license revoked.
One of the residents told MM: ““The whole thing has been an atrocious experience; it feels like we live in a prison five nights a week.
“We didn’t at the start but this whole issue has escalated and we now want their music licence to be revoked.”
An official review will take place in October where Night and Day will defend themselves against claims that they have breached the terms of their noise abatement notice and license.
The Music Venue Trust argues on their website that a ‘common sense’ approach should be taken by city-centre residents who choose to live near places known for hosting live performances and DJs.
The Trust’s Manchester campaigner, Kate Findlay, works for the Royal Northern College of Music and wants to promote smaller venues as ‘cultural assets’, encouraging councils to view them as important parts of the community.
She said: “Being a cultural asset doesn’t mean a venue could do what it wants, but it does mean that that if a venue is struggling it won’t be able get bought out and just made into another Tesco.”
“There’s so much heritage in the city with popular music and living in Manchester, you can’t get away from it,” she added: “It would be such a shame if these places were closed down and young bands didn’t have somewhere to go. They need to be able to get the experience and grow a fan base.”
“But I would say it’s important venues work with their local community not against them.”
The importance of making a profit and guaranteeing people through the door of more established venues often means that relatively unknown bands find it difficult to get on stage, but smaller venues are, in Kate’s words, ‘quite happy for you to just bring all your mates’.
Night and Day café themselves say they are ‘fully backing’ the petition and said: “Small venues need protection at the end of the day.
“We think current events have been quite unreasonable, and think we should follow legislation just brought in down in Australia where whoever was the first in the area has more protection from developers or noise.”
“Until it’s sorted we’ll keep going about our business in a professional manner.”
NME magazine is also supporting the campaign and petition, but CEO Mark Davyd stresses this is not about pitting musicians and bars against local residents.
He said: “It’s more about coming together to say legislation needs to change. Everyone agrees that the current system doesn’t work for either party involved. With 10, 000 signatures we will get a response from government.”