In his role, Claridge will act as a champion for the region’s pubs, clubs, bars, concert venues, theatres and restaurants as they look to rebuild following an incredibly difficult few years.
WMCA said: “The night-time economy is mission critical to the success of the West Midlands but has faced an onslaught of challenges in recent years, having been particularly hard hit by the Covid pandemic, the fallout from Brexit and the implications of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.
“Alex will help bring businesses together with wider stakeholders to lobby for, and achieve, investment and action.”
Advocate for this role
NTIA CEO Michael Kill added: “We welcome the announcement the mayor and WMCA will be appointing Alex Claridge for the region.
“The NTIA has been an advocate for this role for many years, campaigning for every city and town across the country to have a nightlife champion, in a bid to strengthen the network of representation and promote the important role the industry plays in the recovery of the country and the ongoing economic success of our communities across the UK.
“We are looking forward to continuing our work with WMCA and Alex, actively helping to support and develop the role within the region, as well as playing a part in promoting and shaping nightlife across the UK.”
As part of his role, Claridge, who is chef-patron of The Wilderness restaurant in Birmingham, will act as a strategic adviser to help create a thriving and safe night-time economy.
Born and raised in the West Midlands, Claridge also owns of cocktail bar and creative studio, Atelier Birmingham.
He said: “It is a privilege to offer my time and energy to the city and wider region that has been so very kind to me over the years. Our region would be a very dull place indeed without the continued existence and evolution of the many spaces and places that animate our evenings.
“It takes a certain talent, character, and energy to work in or run the many diverse businesses that make our evenings memorable. I want to harness that creativity and tenacity to fight the good fight. For many of us operating across the broad banner of the night-time economy, the tigers have found us.
“I know many of my peers today are cornered – rising energy prices, staff shortages, strikes, rapidly increasing costs and the rest of it. With such talent in our region, it is my good fortune to be asked to serve as the West Midland’s first night-time economy adviser and it is my promise that I will fight alongside you to achieve change. We will fight present challenges together, and we will celebrate the dynamic future I still believe in for hospitality together.”
Claridge was chosen for the role following a WMCA recruitment process that also involved Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA.