Rainbow Releases Statement Announcing Closure | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Rainbow Releases Statement Announcing Closure

On the evening of the 18th of January, The Rainbow Venues shared a video announcing their closure

‘Everything is gone’ states Lee McDonald, the founder of the Venues. The Rainbow Warehouse lost its music license earlier this year, on the 28th November 2017, after a fellow student died at the Halloween event hosted by the venue. McDonald reports this has subsequently led to the closure of all The Rainbow venues. This includes The Warehouse, Blackbox, The Roof Garden, The Arena, The Carpark and also The Crane, the newest of all the venues, having only opened back in September. The video, which went live at 7pm, features a number of speakers, all of whom have connections to the venues. The tagline reads ‘We need your help to appeal for justice. We need you to #EDUCATENOTREVOCATE.’ Alongside this was an appeal for everyone to share the video and head to the following website: www.educatenotrevocate.com.

'We need your help to appeal for justice. We need you to #EDUCATENOTREVOCATE.'

Only minutes after the video was posted, the website crashed due to receiving such a high volume of visitors. The post was amended to advise those trying to access it to come back and try again later.

After informing viewers of the closure, McDonald explains this means many events hosted by the venues will now no longer take place, including; The Haunting, any New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day events, Chapter Festival and MADE festival, the latter two of which McDonald states accommodated for 15,000 customers.

McDonald continues to discuss the impact of the closures. Having provided a platform for many aspiring artists the opportunity of performing in a club environment, and even more people the opportunity to attend an array of events in which the venues hosted. McDonald describes the closure as ‘a little bit tragic’ for the youth of today, to which a Facebook user commented as being the ‘understatement of the century’.

McDonald describes the closure as 'a little bit tragic'

The founder shares his frustration with the authorities, reminding viewers The Rainbow is a monopoly of venues. He continues to highlight this does not deplete promoters, artists, managers and ‘the same crowd listening to the same genre of music’, stating they will just go elsewhere to host or attend the type of events The Rainbow once housed. The inference being that the closure of The Rainbow does not solve the problem of drug usage.

‘The Rainbow had a very, very stringent door policy’ states McDonald, as well as a ‘very, very tight policy about drugs’. McDonald continues to suggest that if drugs can make their way into prisons, and onto planes, then they can also be smuggled into nightclub. Whilst he is talking, the video shows clips of bodyguards searching for and confiscating drugs from customers. The clips seem to support the ‘stringent door policy’ in which McDonald refers too, with one man having both his shoe and sock searched.

The video then shows footage of a security guard discussing the contents of small bag with small pink circular pills inside, which he has confiscated from a what is presumed to be customer of the venues. The security guard asks the boy in question what he has just taken from him, to which the boy replies ‘just some pills’, unable to name exactly what they are. The boy admits to smuggling them in via his rear, to which the security operative states ‘shows the level people go to’ to take in illegal substances. The footage continues, showing the security operative informing the boy of the venues’ protocol of a further search since he has been found in possession.

The video then cuts to Lenny Scarlett, the security operative from the previous footage, appealing for the support of previous attendees, to help get the venues back. Following his appeal, Mark Blanchette, a drugs welfare officer, is the next to speak. He argues ‘the issue of closing down a venue because of an unfortunate drug related death is very shorted’ and all it does is push ‘the problem elsewhere.’ Next to appear is security manager, Devon Petrie who provided staff to the venues, stating his company have lost both business and staff. ‘We got a lot of good staff’ says Petrie, who have gone from working numerous nights a week to nothing due to the closures.

'The issue of closing down a venue because of an unfortunate drug related death is very shorted'

The video also features artists who have played the venues. Bunny, a resident DJ of the venues, claims the closure will be ‘a tragedy’ for himself and other aspiring DJs. Hannah Wants, a world known DJ who grew up in Birmingham, tells the camera ‘The Rainbow was the first club to give me a bigger opportunity.’ Hannah continues to state the uniqueness of each venue and despite DJing all around the world, ‘The Rainbow is still one of the best venues in the entire world to play’ being an iconic venue not just in Birmingham but in the whole of the UK. Tom Shortez, the co-founder of 02.31 which until now was hosted exclusively at Rainbow, argues the venues ‘landscaped how we see Digbeth now.’ Shortez states without it, businesses like Digbeth Dining Club and Ghetto Golf ‘would never have come to Digbeth if it wasn’t for the foundations The Rainbow actually put in place.’

The Rainbow is still one of the best venues in the entire world to play

Digbeth Dining Club seems to be continuing, and it is not clear whether they have been affected by the closures. Their social media pages indicate that their award-winning street food events will still be taking place at Mama Roux and Spotlight, despite being owned by Rainbow. Jack Brabant, founder of Digbeth Dining Club features on the video, stating without the support of The Rainbow, the street food company would have struggled to become as successful as it has. The Landlord of the Old Crown, Ciaran Healy, situated near the Rainbow venues, further discusses the impact of the closure and its links to ‘the decline to the local businesses and loss of jobs.’ Other people who feature on the video include Amy Evans, a previous in house graphic designer for the venues, and Jordan Jake, the owner of a stage production company, both of whom thank the venues for enabling their careers to progress.

The last to feature on the video is James Thomas, the man who started the petition to save the venues when their license was first revoked. Thomas argues the closure is ‘not a positive way to deal with the problem, and I don’t buy into it being for public safety.’

Not a positive way to deal with the problem, and I don’t buy into it being for public safety

Numerous people have taken to social media to share their frustration with the decision. One Facebook user comments ‘Rainbow has given me such amazing memories.’ They continue ‘Shutting the club down is going to do nothing to help the drug problem.’ Whilst on twitter, many people have taken to tweeting their support for the venues campaign.

Many students have been left wondering the impact this will have on Birmingham’s night life as well as the city in general. Emile Fisher, a second year English student here at UoB, told Redbrick ‘Rainbow had done a lot for the local economy, having grown up here I saw the changes it made’ he continues ‘it is devastating to lose such an integral part of this city.’

The venues are appealing for everyone to buy merchandise and donate to help with their campaign via the link on the video. It is unclear what the future may hold for the venues, but for now this looks very much like the end.

Music music music (@issycampbell)


19th January 2018 at 9:01 am

Images from

Curran Kelleher