First ‘night czar’ vows to help Bristol’s ‘beautifully rich after-dark culture’ bounce back from Covid

March 12, 2021

Bristol has recruited its first night-time economy czar to lead the city’s entertainment and hospitality sector’s recovery from the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Carly Heath, pictured, the co-founder and trustee of community festival Brisfest, takes up the role in the city council’s City Office at the start of April.

She will champion Bristol’s clubs, pubs, restaurants and events venues and those who work in them, many of whom are struggling to rebuild after enforced closures due to lockdown.

Working closely with the Mayor’s Office and city partners, Carly will also take over the chairing of the Bristol @ Night group, the independent advisory panel first set up to tackle the challenges facing the sector, to make sure the way Bristol functions at night is considered in decision making.

The role – with the official name of night-time economy advisor – is similar to those set up in London in 2016 and Manchester two years later and reflects the strength and vibrancy of Bristol’s night-time economy before the pandemic and the key part it will play in the city’s recovery.

With more than 20 years’ experience, Carly has a track record of delivering successful projects in the cultural sector, including as the founder of Don’t Panic Bristol, a marketing agency that worked with city venues to promote their events, as well as at Brisfest.

She worked at Bristol Beacon (then known as Colston Hall) for a number of years and has also worked on thousands of music events at all levels throughout the city. She was part of the research team at UWE studying the effects of the pandemic on cultural industries.

Among her first tasks will be developing a vision and roadmap to support Bristol’s world-famous cultural venues, bars, restaurants and clubs, increasing collaboration and identifying ways in which to capitalise on the cultural, social and economic benefits that the night-time industries can offer the city. 

Carly said she was honoured to be appointed to the role. “I have passionately worked in the industry my whole career and look forward to advocating Bristol’s beautifully rich after-dark culture,” she said.

“This position is a unique opportunity to amplify the voice of our night-time economy and connect with businesses, city officials, developers, and the wider public.

“Promoting a vibrant nightlife is important for tourism, but also for the social fabric of the city as a space to congregate and share ideas.

“Independent restaurants, venues, bars and clubs are the beating heart of Bristol’s culture. I’m passionate about the businesses that operate from 6pm-6am and I look forward to helping guide Bristol’s night-time economy as we move on from the challenges of lockdown.”

Council cabinet member for strategic design and city planning, Nicola Beech, said: “Having seen such a devastating impact across our city to businesses and individual talent alike, we are delighted that Carly has accepted the role.

“With her proven background and experience we look to quickly reverse the impact Covid has had on culture, music and the night-time economy, supporting a diverse and inclusive offer, and prioritising safety and rest alongside entertainment.

“With Carly acting as a champion for the sector and for the city we will rebuild Bristol’s reputation as a leading, internationally celebrated destination for both residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Marti Burgess, co-chair of the Bristol @ Night panel and owner of the city’s iconic Lakota nightclub, added: “It was clear from both her application and interview that Carly has a deep understanding of Bristol’s night-time economy but also how it crosses over into the wider culture sector.

“She showed an infectious enthusiasm and passion for a sector which is so important to Bristol’s identity. I was also impressed with her awareness of the challenges the sector faces and ideas on how the city could support the night-time economy.”

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