Night­clubs in cultural real estate


In the middle of a dark room, devout and tense, you hear a lone violin. The cadenza of Ludwig van Beethoven's Violin Concerto resounds. You look around and see a large concert hall full of people - mostly in elegant evening dress. Scattered empty seats between the rows, the further your gaze wanders, the more gaps you discover. "Surely it's never been this empty in recent years?" it pops into your head. "What a pity, since music has such a meaningful effect. We need a lot more of that, especially today."

You're right, we're all familiar with the decline in attendance at theaters. Statistics clearly confirm the picture. On average, attendance figures have fallen by around 0.5% a year over the past ten years.1) At first glance, this may not seem like much, but a steady trend, most recently catalyzed by Corona, quickly puts many cultural institutions in a bind when it comes to explaining their social relevance. Yet the general interest in classical music is by no means low. Just under a third of all people are open to classical concerts. The average age of classical music listeners also remains constant at 45.6 years2). The contrasting average age of 58 in concerts, or 53 in theaters3) , indicates that it is mainly attendance at such an event, rather than interest in classical music per se, that needs to be potentiated. This is an approach that many cultural institutions are already following with various offerings such as children's and youth programs.

Other trends, especially in cities, show the need for further development of cultural institutions into so-called "third places" as meeting areas and places to stay. A concept that is intended to meet the need for exchange, stay and communication on the one hand, but also the chance encounter of culture and people. Often this leads to the fact that infrastructures are extended by cozy lounges, co-working spaces, libraries, gastronomy areas without consumption pressure up to courses, workshops, discussion rounds or sports. A combination of both conditions, the lack of visitors in cultural institutions and the need for publicly usable space, can provide a fertile breeding ground for new ideas. Opening up and revitalizing cultural institutions for a diverse and broad nightlife with new groups of visitors. Studies show that more than half of people between the ages of 18 and 24 visit clubs, bars or pubs at least once a month, with around two-thirds going out only between 23:00 and 01:00.4) This is a demand that is currently hardly met by cultural institutions. By opening at night, young adults in particular can be attracted. A target group that, due to differing interests, has rarely been addressed so far. Alongside children and young people, they are the audience of tomorrow.

The possibilities are manifold and have to be weighed up individually depending on the institution. The potential uses range from various freely usable spaces, to actively offered courses and events, to full-fledged nightclubs. Exclusively rentable spaces, bookable services and regular special events can complement the offer. The necessary requirements for the launch can be kept to a minimum, depending on the strategy. On the other hand, the new offer and especially the new target group can represent an increasingly large and important part of the institution's own DNA. Initial points of contact in an accepted field not only make it easier to address the new groups of visitors, they also offer the potential to anchor a modern and open understanding of cultural institutions in the minds of younger generations. It is precisely because of the high degree of diversity and individualizability that suitable and profitable strategies can be developed and implemented for all institutions.

International examples of this are the Tate in London, with its Tate Late and Overnight events, and Spiritland at the Royal Festival Hall. The Tate regularly hosts events in the evening and at night. The respective program ranges from workshops, talks, yoga to food, film and nightclub. Almost all the rooms of the Tate Modern are included and played. Spiritland, on the other hand, is a permanent institution in the Royal Festival Hall. The Audiophile Bar has long opening hours until around two o'clock in the night and is available to visitors after events, but also detached from them. In addition, the premises can be rented for private events and celebrations. Not only internationally, but also nationally, the first cultural institutions are trying to exploit the potential of nighttime use. Munich's Gasteig HP8, a cultural center, is also open to visitors until late in the evening. In additional events, the opening hours are extended to around three o'clock at night. Many free offers and possibilities of use create a creative and open place for a broad public. The connection to the university, the concert hall and the library makes it possible to offer a diverse program without much additional expense.5)

In general, the given resources, such as space, occupancy times, but also finances and personnel, represent an important influencing factor in implementation. In addition, the external framework conditions, such as market environment, competition or target groups, must also be taken into account for a suitable strategy. On the one hand, this necessitates the individual development of a model specially adapted to the company and, at the same time, requires active interaction with external stakeholders. Depending on the design, suitable partners can be recruited to leverage the increased potential in the market through synergy effects. In addition to classic sponsoring partnerships, cooperation with service providers or operators as well as additional agreements with the sponsors are conceivable. In this way, not only the cultural institution itself benefits, but also the entire city becomes more attractive and the local night scene is strengthened. New networking offers for the society can be anchored, which creates the possibility for you and your partners to reach new target groups and to bind them to your institution in the long run.

As a long-standing partner of cultural institutions and their sponsors, actori is happy to support you in developing a strategy tailored to your situation. Get fit for the demands of the time and actively shape the coexistence of our society.

Sources: 1) Theaterstatistik 2008/09 bis 2018/19, 2) MIDiA Research Consumer Survey 2018, 3) Karl-Heinz Reuband: Strukturwandel des Kulturpublikums, in Jahrbuch für Kulturpolitik 2021/2022, 4) Stadtnachacht - Management der Urbanen Nachtökonomie, 5) Interviewaussagen und Websites der Häuser.

An impulse contribution by Julius Geiger, Consulting.

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