05/05/2017 London, UK: UK Music has welcomed the election of six new ‘metro mayors’ as an important opportunity to boost the music scene in each of their regions.
Their appointments, with results declared today, offer a chance for proper regional planning to strengthen the music sector, which attracts millions of people to the areas and provides thousands of jobs.
UK Music, the umbrella body for all sectors of the commercial music industry, believes the new roles will enable a smoother planning and licensing process, which could help reverse the flow of venue closures in many parts of Britain. Devolved powers will also allow mayors to develop a cohesive music strategy to support music tourism, apply for arts funding and allow coordination across the area.
Elections for combined authority mayors have taken place in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Greater Manchester, Liverpool, Tees Valley (including Darlington and Middlesbrough), West Midlands and West of England (including Bristol and Bath). Those elected include long-time supporters of UK Music’s work, Andy Burnham for Greater Manchester and Steve Rotheram who won Liverpool City.
The appointment of the mayors will enable them to replicate and build on the advances made in London, under Sadiq Khan, which has established a music development board to oversee the live music scene, with almost £1 billion generated annually as a result of music tourism. The city has also appointed a night tsar and adopted an ‘agent of change’ principle to protect venues when new developments are sited nearby.
Jo Dipple, chief executive of UK Music, said: “London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s programme targeting growth in creative industries and the night-time economy is working. The new city mayors now have a fantastic opportunity to develop similar programmes for their regions.
“One in 11 jobs are in the creative economy, while at the same time digitisation allows entrepreneurs and businesses to operate anywhere in the UK. Harnessing creative power in these regions will be incredibly powerful; for culture, for entertainment, for jobs and for the local economy.”
UK Music recognises the importance of the regional music scenes across the country and has been compiling annual data in its Wish You Were Here reports looking at the economic impact of music tourism which is worth £3.7 billion across the whole UK in terms of direct and indirect spending.
Music producer Steve Levine, who has relocated his business from London to Liverpool in recent years, is among the music business figures who have seen the opportunities which could open up. He said: “The new mayors have the potential to be a very positive thing for the music scene. Establishing a board in each of these areas dealing with all the relevant issues, whether it is licensing, planning, agent of change and all the other things that affect the music business is very, very important. We need to bring various representatives of the music community together and develop things properly to work out a strategy. It all boils down to jobs.
“It will also be incredibly helpful for these areas to have a focus for their dealings with Westminster, whichever government is in power, and in seeking whatever grants may be available for the arts.”