24.11.2023:UK Music’s Interim Chief Executive Tom Kiehl visited Belfast to deliver a keynote speech to open the Music Cities Afternoon established to coincide with Sound of Belfast 2023 and the Northern Ireland Music Prize.
Earlier this year UK Music revealed that music tourism generated £136,000 for the local Northern Irish music economy with 270,000 music tourists visiting for concerts and festivals. This included 20,000 people coming from outside the UK with the rest travelling from England, Wales and Scotland.
Northern Ireland is home to some fantastic artists across a diverse group of genres – metal, electronic, hip hop, folk and indie. Significant music assets include the renowned Oh Yeah Centre music hub, Stoney Road studios and Stendhal Music Festival. Music heritage tourism has been developed even further in recent years with the Belfast Music Walking Tour. In 2021 Belfast became a UNESCO City of Music.
In his keynote speech, Tom called for greater liaison with the Northern Ireland Executive and local music industry to help further grow the sector. Collaboration could include over issues such as funding, transport infrastructure and venue protections which are crucially important to the Northern Ireland music economy.
Tom also said there was much that the UK could learn from Northern Ireland, particularly around music education. UK Music has called in its recent Manifesto for Music for the UK Government to establish a commission on inequality of opportunity in music education. This will enable welcome approaches taken by Northern Ireland’s Education Authority Music Service to be shared and understood better in the rest of the UK.
In addition to the keynote speech, Tom also participated in a panel at the Music Cities Afternoon alongside MLA and Chair of the All-Party Group on Arts Sian Mulholland, Ciaran Scullion from Arts Council Northern Ireland, Dr John D’Arcy from Queen’s University and Nikki MacRae to consider how the Northern Irish music industry can increase its political influence.Back to news