UK Music Acting CEO Tom Kiehl calls on ministers in Northern Ireland to back plans for a new body to help boost the industry and encourage more visitors.
In a keynote speech at Output Belfast 2020 on Thursday, February 13, Mr Kiehl outlines how a new Ministerial Advisory Group for Music in Northern Ireland could play a vital role in a range of areas - from helping to protect music venues to encouraging young musical talent.
Emulating the success of Music Boards in England, set up with the support of UK Music, the new Ministerial Advisory Group would give legislators on the Northern Ireland Executive a clear picture of the challenges and opportunities facing the industry.
Reporting to the Department for Communities, the Group would work across the 11 district council areas to develop a policy to support the development of music across Northern Ireland.
It would be tasked with identifying potential barriers to further developing a vibrant and diverse music scene - such as licensing and planning laws, funding gaps, as well as developing education, business and training opportunities.
The new Ministerial Advisory Group would help Northern Ireland build on its musical heritage and attract even more visitors. According to the UK Music’s annual Music, By Numbers report music tourism generated £90 million for the Northern Irish economy in 2018.
The report also revealed almost 300,000 people came to Northern Ireland for a live music event in 2018. They included 30,000 overseas tourists who helped sustain more than 1,000 jobs that depend on music tourism in Northern Ireland, showing how attractive it is as a musical hub.
Mr Kiehl said the new advisory group “would bring together all the fantastic work that the Northern Ireland music industry already does and ensure even greater coordination with the Executives priorities”.
Mr Kiehl said: “There are some great things going on already – the Oh Yeah Centre, a Board working on the Belfast 2023 UNESCO City of Music designation as well as a mapping exercise of Northern Ireland and the music industry.
“What I have in mind is designed to complement these activities, rather than compete, and provide a new focus for how the music industry in Northern Ireland fights its corner and gets decision-makers to implement policies on its behalf.
“A Ministerial Advisory Group for Architecture and the Built Environment already exists and I see no reason why something similar for music should not also be created. It could lead to opportunities for young people through increased provision of rehearsal spaces, and more music for fans, increasing Northern Ireland’s role as a destination for music.”
Following a Government announcement of a cut in business rates for music venues, Mr Kiehl is also calling on the Northern Ireland Executive to introduce parallel reliefs.
Mr Kiehl added: “There are numerous reasons why venues close, but spiralling rates is a common factor and it’s imperative that action is taken in Northern Ireland too.
“Again, a Ministerial Advisory Group for Music in Northern Ireland would be a powerful advocate in making the case for business rate relief.”