'Dry' discos and later festivals could boost York's evening economy
BRINGING back alcohol-free discos for young people, open-air shows and later markets and festivals have been put forward as ideas for revitalising York’s evenings.
The suggestions were made by a City of York Council task group formed to look at ways of lengthening the city’s “tourist day” and encourage visitors to stay longer or spend the night in York, particularly focusing on families.
Another possibility is asking museums, galleries and other attractions to be used for other "cultural" events after their normal closing times.
It is part of a wider study of York’s night-time economy, also intended to attract more residents into the city-centre during the evenings. The group of councillors said the revival of “dry discos” for young teenagers should be looked into, but safety issues would need to be addressed.
Their draft final report, which will be discussed by the council’s learning and culture overview and scrutiny committee today, said the group was disappointed early-evening discos were stopped, but their popularity – meaning staff “could not ensure safety” as teenagers left or hung around outside – and changes to nightclub management forced their cancellation.
The report said a residents’ survey suggested the “perception of York as a drinking centre” and a lack of activity and attractions in the city-centre after 5pm may be putting people off.
However, it said: "The task group was unable to identify anywhere which has successfully tackled the teatime lull between 5pm and 8pm, leading to tangible improvements in their early evening economy, either through an improved cultural offer or extended retail offer.
"To achieve city-wide success in York, a partnership approach is required as no organisation can achieve it alone."
It said Prague's National Gallery stayed open in the evenings for classical music concerts and heritage attractions in York could follow this example, as they "may be suitable for alternative cultural use after their close of normal business" and would be one way of bridging the 5pm to 8pm gap.
Extending festivals and markets until 8pm, with buskers and street entertainers asked to perform until that time, and using areas like Newgate Market, King's Square and the Minster Piazza for outdoor music and theatre performances are also suggestions, although funding for performers may be an issue.
The report also said: "The task group agreed the city-centre lacks a focal point where residents and visitors can find information about what's on each day, and the city would benefit from a number of high-quality poster boards strategically placed throughout the city-centre."
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