Wednesday, June 3

A Music Manifesto

- February 26, 2019

Brighton needs to get behind the city’s whole cultural scene

Brighton is Music City… the city has stars a plenty! Rag ’n’ Bone Man, Royal Blood, Rizzle Kicks, Fatboy Slim, The Piranhas, and we’re home to that birthplace of the music stars BIMM!

So where did the stars start? At Brighton’s brilliant grassroots music venues like The Hope and Ruin, Prince Albert, Green Door Store and Concorde 2. Rag ’n’ Bone Man came out of Audioactive and Hope, Fatboy out of Big Beach Boutique at Concorde, and Green Door Store has all the hot new acts. But across the country many venues are under threat because of high rents and rates and BHCC have not given any music venues discretionary rate relief although the councillor responsible claimed in a full council meeting that GMVs had been given rate relief. That, thanks to a FOI request from Mark Stack, has proved to be false.

So now the Grass Roots Music venues are fighting back starting with a Festival from 23 April – Fightback Brighton. And we’re creating a manifesto which we are asking all would be councillors to sign up to. Sally Oakenfold from The Hope and Ruin sums up the key point… “I think it’s crucial that the Council start treating us as culturally relevant and not just a nuisance or an after thought.” And we need councillors to help us achieve the GMV’s key initiatives.


  • Access to funding opportunities, Arts Council & local funding pots.
  • To begin building a charter of Best Practice – with regards to access, diversity, equal opportunity and working with young/vunerable people.
  • Opportunities to collaborate with other local music business’ to build local presence.
  • Help find a way for GMVs to obtain discretionary business relief.
  • Help writing funding applications.
  • An open line of communication with Arts department at the Council – so our spaces may be considered for projects they are working on
  • Help promoting our events.
  • Recognise us as cultural community hubs that fulfill emotional health objectives.
  • We’d like to see the council brand the city as Music City and have banners on every lamppost and all over Brighton Station and our MCP car parks and our bus station with posters saying what’s on in Brighton’s grass roots music venues and Nuala and Simon from the council and Matt.


Having opened its doors in January 2011, GDS has quickly has become one of Brighton’s most loved hubs for live DIY music. The ethos is pretty simple – with up to 14 events a week, it can almost 100% guarantee there is always something for everyone. The bar is always free entry, and the whole venue is usually free entry after 11pm (except for selected club nights) so that money is not an issue to ensure inclusivity for everyone to enjoy music without money being an issue.

As a DIY venue, we have witnessed another detrimental year for local music venues alongside seeing the fallout and effect on the local music community. We are proud to still be operating better than ever almost a decade after opening our doors, with the same continual support of our dedicated audience and maintaining the status as one of Brighton’s most loved venues. The venue itself is one of the most inclusive, forward-thinking venues with the local community at the forefront and priority of the venue. We have a particularly strong engagement with the Music Venue Trust and Brighton Round Table. Brighton Round Table is a collective of live music venue promoters, police, licensing officers and council members, who come together quarterly to discuss issues which may be obstructing the progression of live music within the local area, and working together to better support alternative and live performance culture. We are a part of a smaller group that highlights access and diversity, and have contributed by sharing  noise management policies with other venues to help with a primary issue affecting and leading to closure of a lot of independent music venues and benefit neighbours who live close to venues to prevent future unnecessary closures. They have also been involved with sharing how they implemented gender neutral toilets and how it has benefitted the venue and community, and how other venues can do it easily too.

We pride ourselves upon our GDS Presents events. These are free entry events for local bands to play (and get paid for), giving them a chance to build
their audience, hone their craft and get some gigs under their belt as part of a wider community building picture. We provide full support for artists and
welcome any and all form of music to their lineups, including full promotion of the event, poster, and giving a platform for those who may not have got the opportunity otherwise. Some other innovative events are Queer As Day Festival (an all day celebration of LGBTQIA musicians by and for the queer community and their friends and allies), weekly FemRock events (an award winning notfor- profit night showcasing and celebrating women in music and the longest running of its kind in Brighton), alongside all-dayer art markets, fundraisers and charity events providing a whole new scope for the venue.

On top of all this, GDS is also host to Platform B Radio. Platform B is a youth-led community radio station that champions diversity, through both its presenters and playlists. The studio is nestled on the bar’s mezzanine level and although they call this home, the not-for-profit also broadcasts live from various venues, recording studios and events too.

It’s crucial the Council start treating us as culturally relevant

Security, management and bar staff are all trans-awareness trained, providing one of the safest spaces in Brighton. GDS aim to make sure every single person feels safe and we feel that particularly with security guards, GDS is constantly bigged-up for their incredible team of staff. They have also noticed a shift in audience, not just focusing on young people but regularly having audiences of up to 80+, this has become a hub at the heart of the Brighton community.

Last year GDS introduced a cup deposit scheme to cut down on singleuse plastic and better keep our local environment clean. We have recently celebrated our 8th Birthday and have worked across the Years with Royal Blood, Slaves and 1975. And recently with the likes of: This Is The Kit, Snapped Ankles, Yonaka, CROWS, Iglooghost, AK/DK, Wicker Phase, Chk! Chk! Chk!, Drab Majesty, Boy Pablo, Wiki, Willie J Healey, Amber Run, Black Midi, Conan, Full of Hell, Milk Teeth, Pup, Petrol Girls, Stray from the Path, Slaves, Estrons, in the past couple of years alone.

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