How to make the most of the night time economy in cities?

2 July 2019

On 26 June we hosted an ‘Imagine the urban future’ event focusing on 24-hour cities and how cities plan and manage life at night.

In the same manner as the day time economy, the night time economy (NTE) requires management policies and structures. It is about those who like to go out as much as those who want to sleep. The NTE is a powerful tool to increase a city’s attractiveness, to develop its cultural offer and to create jobs. As it brings about cross-cutting challenges that are deeply relevant to major European cities, it is an urban policy that can only be addressed by adopting an integrated approach.

Interventions from Delphine Houba, alderwoman for culture, tourism, big events and municipal equipment at the city of Brussels, Shain Shapiro, founder and president of Sound Diplomacy, and Thierry Charlois, project manager for night time policy at the city of Paris, highlighted the following trends:

Investing in the NTE is smart
Sound Diplomacy’s guide to managing cities’ NTE highlights powerful figures: in New York the NTE contributes US$10bn to the city’s economy; in Sydney the NTE accounts for approximately 10‑16% of town centre jobs.

However, music venues and night life infrastructures need to be taken care of just like all other city infrastructures. “If we do not invest in them, we are going to lose them”, Shapiro warned.

Night mayors managing cities’ life at night
Night time management must be proactive. No matter which title you choose (night mayor, deputy mayor, czar), appointing a night manager at political or technical level is a good starting point.

Listen to citizens and stakeholders to co-shape life at night
Being inclusive is essential. In Paris, a Night council of about 200 members promotes cooperation among various actors (i.e. club owners, prevention and health organisations, inhabitants). In London, night czar Amy Lamé hosts ‘night surgeries’ across the city to dialogue with night-time workers, business owners, the police, health services and transport workers, residents, local politicians and citizens.

What about Brussels’ nights?
The city has an integrated approach to night life policies, reflected in the Charter of nightlife developed with Brussels Capital Region, the police and the nightlife venues and actors involved. The city and the organisation 24hBrussels have also identified 5 guiding principles: research, especially on links between culture and health; a specific night management team; a responsible clubbing pack (guidelines to be compiled with night stakeholders); the promotion of new spaces and areas for a diverse cultural offer at night; and the improvement of transports and mobility at night. Ms Houba endorsed the creation of a Brussels night mayor that should be self-proclaimed among the night life sector professionals.

Cities learning from each other
The NTE is new in urban policies and cities need to further exchange their experiences. This can be done through EUROCITIES but also through dedicated EU funded projects in the field of culture, urban development or research.


Julie Hervé Head of Culture