We need more music spaces in Cork

It’s incredible that we have so many nightclubs and venues lying vacant in the city, says STEVIE G
We need more music spaces in Cork

Other than Cyprus Avenue and a few late bars, Cork’s late-night spaces are generally not open to hosting electronic music, says Stevie G

The conversation about spaces in Ireland has gathered pace in recent months and years. Our housing and rental situation is showing no signs of improving, and these frustrations have been shared by those in the music scene, whose options have become limited also. I recently wrote about the amount of clubs closing in Ireland, and the last nightclub in Galway will now be turned into another hotel, as the situation gets worse.

As war continues in eastern Europe, we can reflect that music venues and nightclubs are hardly the most important priority in the world, but nevertheless arts and culture play a very important role in all societies, and in Cork a group of passionate music fans are trying to change things.

The Electronic Music Council (EMC) was recently formed by a number of DJs and producers who hope to support a sustainable music scene. I met with some of the group last week at Eventi Marketing agency, who have been supporting them from the off. I was impressed by the determination of everyone involved.

The EMC is “an organisation of creatives working together to generate a support network that continues to improve the current state of the electronic music scene in Cork City”.

It will campaign for “positive, sustainable night culture solutions and multipurpose event spaces”.

They recognise that the pandemic has drastically impacted those within the music scene, with a “deficit of night-time establishments in Cork” meaning options are very limited for promoters, DJs, producers, and clubbers.

The EMC make an important point in highlighting that many talented people have relocated from Cork to elsewhere due to this lack of options. Many of my music friends have done so in the last 10 years. The whole music scene is suffering.

EMC aims to create a support network working towards “creating a shared space for live events, workshops, conferences, and much more”. This will “foster and support culture that can rebuild our electronic music scene, making it more inclusive, sustainable, positive, safe, and educational for emerging artists to grow, reducing the inequalities they face in the current climate”.

These aren’t lofty or unreasonable aims. It’s incredible that we have so many nightclubs and venues lying vacant in the city, just gathering dust.

We spoke about the work Frank O’Connor and Jude Sherry are doing online under the hashtag #DerelictIreland, highlighting the many buildings that are lying desolate and unused in all of our cities and public places.

Many music venues lie derelict as well, and many lie unused. The late-night ones that are open, bar Cyprus Avenue and a few late bars, are generally operating as venues where chart music is the thing, so opportunities to run nights are few and far between.

The Give Us The Night campaign has been making great progress on repealing the licensing laws, but when this happens we need viable options late at night.

There must be some venues or bars that might be more open to even giving up their space on an off-night. I used the example of a club night we used do in the 90s called Mór Disco, which started in the upstairs of a bar that would not have been that busy on a Tuesday. The promoters got the venue, and proved themselves, and the night became so big we eventually filled the City Hall two years in a row, and they started a festival on the back of it. There are no limits when you have a vision, but sadly many young promoters and DJs don’t even make it as far as a chat with the venue owner.

Sometimes dance music has a bad rep, but I would imagine lots of venues could do with more business, so there might be some opportunities for promoters and venues to collaborate on off-nights, or even early evenings.

Besides that, there will hopefully be more opportunities for spaces that are not traditional club spaces, such as The Marina or Black Market, or other such spots.

From an underground perspective, there are lots of warehouses and other buildings around, so it would be cool if we could make progress on the licensing here too, as ultimately I think we need to look at music from a community and cultural perspective too.

Workshops, discussions and practice spaces could all be incorporated, and then we could really watch the youth of Cork build something special!

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