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Music industry ‘needs a voice at the heart of Government’ to bring fans to Northern Ireland

UK Music acting chief executive officer Tom Kiehl urged ministers to back plans for a new body to help boost the industry and encourage more visitors.

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UK Music said the industry should have a bigger voice to help bring more fans to Northern Ireland (Nick Ansell/PA)

UK Music said the industry should have a bigger voice to help bring more fans to Northern Ireland (Nick Ansell/PA)

UK Music said the industry should have a bigger voice to help bring more fans to Northern Ireland (Nick Ansell/PA)

The music industry should have a bigger voice to help bring more fans to Northern Ireland, a key advocacy organisation said.

UK Music acting chief executive Tom Kiehl called on ministers to back plans for a new body to help boost the industry and encourage more visitors.

He said almost 300,000 people came to Northern Ireland for a live music event in 2018, including 30,000 overseas tourists who helped sustain more than 1,000 jobs.

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 tooTom Kiehl

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.”

He delivers a keynote speech at the Output Belfast 2020 conference on Thursday outlining how a new ministerial advisory group for music could play a vital role helping to protect music venues and encouraging young musical talent.

He added: “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.”

He urged a cut in business rates for music venues.

“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,” he said.

“Again, a ministerial advisory group for music in Northern Ireland would be a powerful advocate in making the case for business rate relief.”

PA