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Event to drive change and development for music in Leeds


An event to bring together everyone interested in supporting and developing the music community in Leeds will take place at Leeds Town Hall this month.

The event is being hosted by Music:Leeds, a project, led by partners Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council and LeedsBID, aiming to create more opportunities, increase collaborations and raise awareness within the Leeds music scene.

The research, led by Samuel Nicholls (pictured top), also known as Whiskas, a Senior Lecturer in Music at Leeds Beckett University, explores and promotes music in Leeds as an experience, a business and as a cultural driver. It will be presented at the event held on Wednesday 29 November, alongside talks from a range of key figures from Europe and the UK, who are creating vibrant and supportive music scenes and music sectors in their cities.

Samuel said: "Music:Leeds is a project that has been long in the making and we have been working behind the scenes throughout the year to build an accurate picture of what music activity exists in the city. We are incredibly excited to create this opportunity to bring everyone involved in music together, with what we hope is a really great drive for change and development around what we can do in the city from a range of organisations and businesses.

“Our aim is that, following the event, we will have discovered and identified some fundamentals of what we can do to galvanise music in the city, provide more opportunities for engagement and build on the great artists, organisations and businesses doing amazing work.”

Tom Riordan, Chief Executive of Leeds City Council, who will be speaking at the event, said: “The creative industries account for over 5% of the UK economy and are its fastest growing sector. Music is the heartbeat of civic life in Leeds and is growing fast, with venues as diverse as the 13,000-seat First Direct Arena, the beautiful Holy Trinity Church and the iconic Brudenell Social Club complementing events such as Live at Leeds, Black Music Festival and Leeds Festival, and providing a range of spaces, venues and experiences.  

“We have a thriving and very talented performance scene supported by Leeds Beckett University, Leeds College of Music and Leeds City College, alongside a host of rehearsal venues, producers, record labels, club nights, DJs and promoters. Music:Leeds is an exciting project which will, for the first time, bring the industry together, promote collaboration and shout louder about the music industry’s contribution to our cultural life here in Leeds.”

Andrew Cooper, Chief Executive of LeedsBID, said: “LeedsBID is delighted to be supporting Music:Leeds and helping to bring greater focus on the city’s music scene as a vibrant and creative employment sector. Working with business and organisations across the city, LeedsBID provides a united voice to help support business aims and aspirations, along with an investment in skills and talent.

“Events like Music:Leeds and this year’s Leeds International Festival, featuring music as a key component, demonstrates the city’s music credentials which are invaluable in showcasing its appeal, impact and opportunities.”

Speakers at the event will also include: Ella Overkleeft, Deputy Night Mayor of Amsterdam; Jesper Mardahl, Manager of Promus, a community and networking centre for Denmark’s music industry; Shain Shapiro, Managing Director of music market development company, Sound Diplomacy; Craig Pennington, Editor in Chief of Bido Lito! Magazine and lead for the ‘Liverpool, Music City?’ project; Chelsea Rixson, Founder of Brighton Music Office, and Phil Nelson, BIMM Group - Music Industry Ambassador; and Michael Dugher, CEO of UK Music, a campaigning and lobbying group representing the UK recorded and live music industry.

Representatives of Music:Leeds, Leeds City Council and Leeds 2023 will discuss their work, which supports Leeds’s bid to be European Capital of Culture. Additionally, there will be panel discussions, question and answer sessions and networking opportunities.

Music:Leeds partner organisation, UK Music, will also host a research conference on Tuesday 28 November, open to members of industry, academia and students. The event takes place at Leeds Town Hall from 1.30-6pm.

Speakers at the event include: Oliver Morris, Director of Education and Skills at UK Music; Leeds Beckett’s Samuel Nicholls; Annabella Coldrick, CEO of the Music Managers Forum; Dr Emma Webster, Research Associate for the UK Live Music Census; and academics at Southampton Solent University, Newcastle University, Cambridge University, and the University of Northampton.

Music:Leeds was launched in May 2017 with the aim of making music in Leeds better than ever. Leeds Beckett researchers have now created a database of music activity in Leeds at all levels, including music creators, music performers, music businesses and organisations supporting music-based activity.

The researchers have used the information gathered to create a framework to support music organisations, making existing support more accessible and achieving more recognition for the wide range of talent working in music in Leeds.

Samuel Nicholls is a former musician, promoter, venue manager, artist manager and record label owner in the city who now works as a Senior Lecturer in Music, is an advisor for PRS Foundation and Arts Council England, and sits on the Artistic Programme Advisory group for Leeds’s European Capital of Culture bid. For further information, please visit Music:Leeds.

The full list of Music:Leeds partners is: Leeds Beckett University, Leeds City Council, LeedsBID, Awesome Merchandise, Leeds College of Music, and Ibis Styles Hotel City Centre Arena.

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