The IMI 19th Jul 2021

‘We need to inform regional strategy rather than simply be affected by it’

The newly launched West Midlands Music Board in the UK brings together a diverse range of industry insiders to make sure the area’s musical contribution is recognised, maintained and invested in for the future…

The music industry needs to have a direct influence on regional strategy in the UK to ensure it receives the support it needs to thrive today and in the future – particularly as focus turns to a tentative and hopeful post-pandemic recovery.

That’s the view of the new West Midlands Music Board, which was announced at the end of June.

The Board will operate independently and cover the whole of the UK’s West Midlands, including Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.

It is made up of a diverse range of music insiders from the area including Lawrence Barton (Southside BID, PRIDE festival Birmingham), Danni Brownsill (Music Venues Trust, The Sugarmill), Guy Dunstan (NEC Group); Bobby Friction (BBC Asian Network), Holly Hollister (Selextorhood, BABMAG) Pete Jordan (MADE Festival, Weird Science) Alicja Kaczmarek (Centrala) Lisa Meyer (Home of Metal, Capsule) Sarah Morgan (Tin Music, Arts in Coventry) Nick Reed (B:Music), Reuben Reynolds (artist, producer, mentor) Despa Robinson (BE83 Music) and Louise Stamp (Academy Music Group).

Talking to The IMI, WMMB Chair Nick Reed said: “We want to make sure that the board, as representative of music and the wider night-time economy in the region, becomes a go-to consulting partner in any decisions relating to investment, planning, training, licensing, transport and education in the region. Our sector needs to inform regional strategy rather than simply be affected by it. By being part of strategic decision making we can ensure that investment supports careers and training in our sector, nurtures our talent and creates a built environment where our venues and clubs are able to thrive.”

"By being part of strategic decision making we can ensure that investment supports careers and training in our sector, nurtures our talent and creates a built environment where our venues and clubs are able to thrive."

The set-up of the Board was led by Culture Central – a collective for the cultural sector of the West Midlands region – in partnership with Punch Records’ Ammo Talwar MBE and Sound Diplomacy. It has been championed by West Midlands artists Lady Leshurr, Tony Iommi and Joan Armatrading.

“The West Midlands has produced artists and genres of music that have had truly worldwide impact, individually acclaimed but never seen as connected,” Reed added. “Part of the role of the board is to represent this whole, and to show how the heritage, youth, and diversity of the region combine to produce one of the most vibrant scenes in the UK.

“The pandemic brought the UK music industry together through necessity, and the eventual commitment of £1.57bn through the Culture Recovery Fund demonstrated the power of collective national lobbying. The WMMB will work with all of the national partners it can alongside other regional music boards to make sure that the music sector remains part of recovery planning.”

Main picture: [Top L-R] Alicja Kaczmarek, Bobby Friction, Danni Brownsill, Despa Robinson, Guy Dunstan, Holly Hollister, [Bottom L-R] Lawrence Barton, Lisa Meyer, Louise Stamp, Nick Reed, Pete Jordan, Reuben Reynolds.

The IMI