Manchester City Council announces independent review into how it supports small music venues

The review led by MMC comes in light of the ongoing courtroom saga between Night & Day and the Council

By Manchester's Finest | 20 March 2023

Share this story

The story of Manchester music venue Night & Day vs the Council continues. Last week, the venue announced it would be going back to court with Manchester City Council. The talks between the two parties aimed to resolve the long-term row over a noise abatement notice out of court. Unfortunately, they have ended without resolution. 

In case you missed this story, a noise complaint was made by a resident who moved into a flat next to Night & Day in 2020. The flats, which were built in 2000, had originally been given planning permission by Manchester City Council. But according to venue owner Jennifer Smithson, not enough consideration had been made regarding any noise that might leak into the flats from the venue – even though this was a condition of the planning approval. 

The row over a noise abatement notice at Night & Day continues. Image: Manchester’s Finest

Fast forward to 2020 and a noise abatement notice was issued, putting the long standing venue’s future at risk. The person who complained has since moved out of their flat and there have been no further complaints from current tenants. The Council continues to say it values the city’s music venues and would like to reach a friendly solution but a conclusion to the case is yet to be reached.

Today, Monday 20 March, saw the Council announce a major new independent review into Manchester’s grassroots music venues and how it can better serve them. 

The review will be undertaken by Manchester Music City (MMC) and will be looked after by the MMC steering group. It will be led by the MMC’s chair Debra King, Director of Manchester-based music development organisation Brighter Sound. 

In 2019 Manchester joined something called the Music Cities Network. This is a global non-profit organisation which encourages collaboration between “music cities” worldwide. Its aim is to “future-proof” the music industry with a focus on diversity, fairness and health. It says its vision is “to get decision makers and politicians to sustainably acknowledge music as an integrated part of city development”.

Venues like Band on the Wall are integral to Manchester’s status as a music city. Image: Manchester’s Finest

Due to start its work in April, the review from MMC aims to come up with practical ways in which the Council can support small and medium-sized music venues in the city. The challenge will be making sure these important cultural spaces are nurtured while keeping the needs of residents and businesses living alongside them in mind.

Debra King said: “This review and its recommendations will be critical to strengthening the position of grassroots music venues in the city and in ensuring that music continues to be central to the cultural vibrancy of Manchester.” 

A statement from the council about the review reads:

“The review will consider the needs of the music sector within the city’s policies, planning considerations, regulatory functions such as environmental health and licensing and the development of new frameworks and priorities. Its report will also advise on supporting the development of Manchester as a Music City, with a vibrant and inclusive cultural economy which attracts and nourishes grassroots talent.” 

Council Leader Bev Craig assures us the Council want to support our music venues. Image: Manchester’s Finest

Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig said: “Music is part of Manchester’s DNA and Manchester’s music sector is one of the distinctive ingredients which make this a world class city. We want to protect, champion and grow it. Grassroots venues are an essential element in nurturing talent. The council, and its partners, want to do all we can to support and protect them. These venues deliver meaningful social, cultural, economic and health benefits for Manchester people and opportunities for new musicians.

“I know we have seen an instance recently, with the Night & Day case, where the legal and regulatory duties on placed public bodies have appeared to some to conflict with this aspiration. While the legal context is complex, working together with the sector I’m confident that this independent review will help us find solutions to prevent future cases and move us forward in the future.”

Here’s hoping a resolution can be reached and venues like Night & Day can continue lighting up the city’s nightlife and giving an important platform to independent artists.