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Arielle Lana LeJarde
17 May 2024, 18:51

Belfast is looking for a Night Czar

Applications for the new role are open until 20th May

Ava Festival 2021.
Credit: The Hype Factory, Lewis McClay

Belfast is getting its first-ever city centre Night Czar.

Belfast One Belfast's Business Improvement District (BID) has teamed up with the Cathedral Quarter BID and the Linen Quarter BID to appoint this new role in support of the developing the city's night-time economy. 

The Night Czar's role includes being the voice of the Northern Irish capital’s night-time economy, acting as the main point of contact for key stakeholders and media, as well as consulting the city on how to develop, support, and enhance the sector. The position is a part-time office holder role and reports directly to the three BID boards. Individuals interested in the opening can apply here until 20th May.

"The appointment of the Belfast Night Czar will follow a competitive process, with a public advertisement, application, and panel-based interview," the job application's description reads.

The Night Czar will hold the post until January 2026, the duration of the current Belfast Purple Flag mandate and can be reappointed for another two-year mandate via unanimous vote by the three Belfast BIDs.

In June 2021, an initiative called Free The Night was launched by DJ Holly Lester and Boyd Sleator to support Northern Ireland's night-time economy and challenge the restrictive elements of the country's Licensing and Registration of Clubs Bill. Formed at the time as a response to a lack of real change in the 2021 licensing review, Northern Ireland experienced some of the most restrictive opening times across the UK and Europe, with nightclubs having to stop serving alcohol by 1 am and closing by 3 am. The review allowed for an extension of one hour drinking time until 2 am, however, clubs still must close at 3 am by the very latest. 

The group are also working on many other issues affecting the night time economy, including a lack of public transport at night, night time safety and a lack of data on the Northern Irish night time economy. 

The following year, new licensing laws were being written to extend the hours to serve alcohol until 5 am and close at 6 am. The new bill is still not in effect.

In a statement about the position opening, Free The Night shared: “Whilst Free The Night welcomes this news and is encouraged by conversations with the Purple Flag Steering Group and the BIDs, this does not absolve the need for the government to take full responsibility for the night time economy. We will continue to advocate for long term night time governance between the departments and city councils and for now, will continue to engage with and support the BIDs throughout this process. We wish to encourage individuals with a focus on culture and creativity after dark to apply for the role, and similarly offer our support and guidance to the successful applicant.”

Read DJ Mag's feature on the complicated reality of the Night-Time Economy across the UK.

Revisit Olivia Stock's review of AVA Belfast 2023, about how the festival has become a rave haven for homegrown talent, here.