Creative Footprint is a research project by VibeLab with support of PennPraxis that researches creative spaces and communities to study the cultural value and impact of music and nightlife in the city.

Photo credit: Mark Bolk, Instagram @markbolk 

In the coming years, Rotterdam will embark on visionary plans for the hospitality and cultural sector that include ambitions for nightlife and the integration of nightlife in urban policy. With generous support from the Municipality of Rotterdam, N8W8 R’dam has commissioned urban nighttime research consultancy VibeLab, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s PennPraxis, to undertake a study of the city’s music and nightlife spaces and communities throughout 2024. 

The Rotterdam-based nightlife advocacy and advisory organisation N8W8 R’dam will serve as an integral local partner in project implementation. Over the spring, the Creative Footprint team will host a series of focus groups and in-depth interviews to better understand the prevailing issues, challenges and opportunities for nightlife 

in the city. By inviting all of Rotterdam’s nightlife actors to participate and engage in discussion, the team will empower and amplify emerging and established voices alike. In tandem, the Creative Footprint team will produce a richly detailed spatial analysis of nightlife venues in the city against demographic and economic datasets, in order to uncover further insights into the ways in which nightlife is embedded into Rotterdam’s urban fabric.  

The research project will culminate with a report in Autumn 2024, including a set of policy recommendations and ‘better’ practices to best support the Municipality of Rotterdam to work with and support the city’s nightlife communities. These next steps will align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Rotterdam is the seventh city to be studied by the Creative Footprint team, having previously conducted research into the creative and cultural nighttime sectors of Berlin, New York, Tokyo, Stockholm, Montréal and Sydney. 

Creative Footprint’s methodology was developed by Berlin Club Commission’s board member and spokesperson Lutz Leichsenring in collaboration with leading nighttime academics and practitioners at Harvard University. Since Creative Footprint launched with Berlin’s study in 2017, the team has generated a database of over 5,000+ music and nightlife venues in seven major cities across three continents. Creative Footprint’s data scientists, led by city planner and lecturer Michael Fichman at the University of Pennsylvania, analyse thousands of unique data points pertaining to nightlife venues. 

The team assesses venues according to unique indicators and integrates this venue data with economic and spatial data from government databases using a customised software environment. This leads to a rich cultural analysis of the city’s cultural and creative nighttime ecosystem. Working in collaboration with local music and nightlife experts, Creative Footprint’s research team gathers insights from dozens of actors, stakeholders and decision makers embedded in a city’s creative, music and nightlife scenes to assess the current picture, and provide actionable solutions.

Creative Footprint Rotterdam comes at an exciting and crucial moment as Rotterdam has recently seen both venues opening and closing, whilst the different local scenes and municipality have been pushing for more lively, safely accessible nightlife. So, what comes next? Research will commence in mid-March 2024 with a series of focus groups and interviews with selected Rotterdam nightlife changemakers. The Creative Footprint team will continue from there to engage with more people, data and the city. The insights and momentum generated by Creative Footprint Rotterdam will be essential for the city to safeguard, grow and celebrate its nightlife. 

If you would like to get involved, reach out to us via the Google form below. Follow the N8W8 R’dam socials for updates on this project or subscribe to the mailing list via this link


Creative Footprint Rotterdam is a research project by VibeLab and PennPraxis commissioned by N8W8 R’dam with generous support of the Municipality of Rotterdam

VibeLab is a leading, purpose-driven consultancy agency in all things at night. Founded in 2018 by Amsterdam’s former Night Mayor Mirik Milan and Berlin Club Commission’s spokesperson Lutz Leichsenring, VibeLab is based between Amsterdam, Berlin and Sydney. Our expertise and international network of over 3,000 cultural and creative industry professionals, scientists and public officials in more than 100 cities on 6 continents helps all those seeking new paths to improve creative nighttime ecosystems. VibeLab is fast-acting, trendspotting and strategising with all parties involved in creative communities, private and public sectors. By facilitating the exchange of ideas and providing tried and tested tools, formats and best practices, we amplify subcultures.

For interview requests or enquiries about the project: