'We cannot afford to lose our iconic venues': appeal to save Sheffield's nightlife

Industry leaders and politicians have launched an appeal to the Government to provide more support for Sheffield’s nightlife, as the hospitality and entertainment industry continues to be hit by Covid restrictions.

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 12:20 pm

Sheffield has more than a thousand businesses offering a huge range of experiences in the night-time economy, which includes live music, exhibitions and cinema.

The city has a reputation for hosting many internationally renowned events and festivals, such as Tramlines, Sensoria, MelaninFest, Sheffield Beer Week and Sheffield Doc/Fest.

These businesses support nearly 12,000 jobs directly, and many more through the gig economy and their supply chains.

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Nick Simmonite at the Frog and Parrot

Yet throughout the pandemic these entertainment institutions synonymous with Sheffield have struggled to survive, with fundraisers launched for grassroots music venues, pubs remaining closed for almost a year and theatres being forced to lay staff off.

Alongside industry partners such as UNIGHT, a not-for-profit organisation that represents Sheffield's night-time community, and CAMRA (the Campaign for Real Ale), Sheffield City Council is calling on the Government to put practical support and funding in place to ensure the survival of businesses that play a key role in Sheffield’s identity.

Nick Simmonite, Chair of UNIGHT and Manager of the Frog and Parrot, said: “So many businesses I work with are on their knees, because of the pandemic. Many will not survive.

The Leadmill

“With support, we will bounce back. We are ready to provide the services and experiences that we absolutely know our people are going to want right now.”

Cllr Mazher Iqbal, Cabinet Member for Business and Investment at Sheffield City Council, said: “We have iconic venues and events in Sheffield that are known worldwide and are an integral part of our appeal as a visitor destination.

“That there is something for everyone is central to Sheffield’s uniqueness, and we simply cannot afford to lose these much-loved and valuable assets.

The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

“The Council is calling on the Government to support these businesses who have been hardest hit by the pandemic so that when the time is right, they can come back fighting and provide the vibrant nightlife we are all so looking forward to experiencing again.”

Dave Pickersgill, Pub Heritage Officer of CAMRA Sheffield added: “The Government should realise the immense value of pubs to communities, individuals, and the economy – and it should protect them and allow them to trade on a par with restaurants and shops.

“Pubs are essential to our local economy and we should be doing all we can to support them to survive through these difficult times, not hindering them.”

The council has submitted its proposals to the All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into the night-time economy. These include:

Cllr Mazher Iqbal.

- A continuation of the furlough scheme, business rates relief and five per cent VAT relief for the rest of 2021

- Funds to be allocated to encourage the creation of new businesses and to enable training for new staff entering the sector

- A national campaign aimed at restoring consumer confidence and encouraging people to continue to spend local when restrictions are lifted

- Ensuring a level playing field between pubs, restaurants, takeaways and shops so that pubs have a lifeline during the current lockdown

The public and those who work in the industry are invited to submit their views, and can do so by filling in this form.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.