Ash drummer: Protect music funding
Funding for music development in Northern Ireland should be protected from cuts, a member of local band Ash has said.
The Downpatrick rockers play in the Ulster Hall on Thursday night and drummer Rick McMurray said the case for helping develop new bands is even stronger.
"It seems that in hard times like this there will always be stuff like this which will be the first to be cut," he said.
"It is important for the arts to be funded all the more, for a lot of people from deprived backgrounds that is an escape route to a better life, hopefully it won't have to have much of an effect."
He said local people now are much more open to new music than when Ash were breaking into the charts in the 1990s.
"There seems to be more acceptance from more mainstream people, more willingness to go out and see gigs by local bands, back then it was all about the charts," he added.
All public spending has been affected by a reduced budget handed down by Westminster.
Northern Ireland bands such as Cashier No.9 and Two Door Cinema Club have emerged in recent years, following the success of groups including Bangor, Co Down, outfit Snow Patrol.
The Oh Yeah music centre in Belfast's Cathedral Quarter has been established to promote new talent, while local bands have also performed at the South By Southwest festival in Texas, a platform for new acts.
Artists and bands such as Kelis, The Enemy, Horslips, DJ Fresh and Cashier No.9 will also perform in the Ulster Hall for Guinness's Arthur's Day. As well as entertaining in the bigger venues, each of the studio artists will turn up in a pub for an intimate, surprise performance.