Northern Ireland is proud of its musical heritage, one that boasts institutions, collectives and individuals that have made a significant impact on the local and world stage. Music provides a powerful vehicle for promoting the expression of values and identity. People working in the sector here are highly committed and resourceful in an environment which has become increasingly competitive and globalised.
The new five year Music Strategy from the Arts Council addresses challenges such as funding restrictions, economic pressures and globalization also highlighting the positive opportunities available to improve and build upon recent and historical success from within this vibrant sector. A Music Review carried out for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland by Judith Ackrill and Nod Knowles in 2011 (Ackrill & Knowles 2011) and part funded by the British Council, followed by a full consultation process with the music sector and wider public, has helped inform the new strategy. It aims to better enable the development of music creation and provision in Northern Ireland as part of the Arts Council’s objectives, whilst remaining open and responsive to an ever-changing music scene.
In recent years the Art Council has widened its remit to embrace all musical styles. It is firmly committed to enabling people in Northern Ireland to experience the best music, in any form: from classical to jazz, from traditional and folk to rock and pop, from world music to electronic and contemporary music. We want to introduce music across different spheres of music activity: from education to participation, from composition to performance. By doing so we hope to fulfil our mission to stimulate and support the creation and performance of music throughout Northern Ireland and to ensure that music is enjoyed by a wide audience, across the region and all the groups, traditions and communities within it.
The ten key areas for consideration and development highlighted in the Music Strategy are:
Traditional Music, Youth Music, Regional Touring and Audience Development, Orchestral provision, Festivals, Participation: the voluntary and amateur sectors, Professional and artistic development for musicians, Music Industry, Music and Cultural Diversity and International touring and networking.
The Arts Council’s action plan is limited by financial forecasts for the next five years, and by the overall operational context, however it is well placed to facilitate partnerships and collaborations among artists within the music sector and across all art forms, and between the sector and other agencies.
Ciaran scullion, Head of Music at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland said
‘Music belongs to everyone, quality music provision is an essential ingredient for any healthy society, informing its entire culture and contributing to the enrichment of the lives of all who engage in musical activity, whether as participants (professionally or just for fun) or audience members. We are delighted to unveil our new 5 year music strategy which we are confident will both nurture further music-making in Northern Ireland and support the development of an energetic and resilient sector that is fit for the challenges of the current marketplace.’
The Arts Council intends to increase its commitment to music through the development of partnerships with other organisations, from community groups to government agencies, to European and international bodies. It aims to exploit fully current mechanisms for encouraging greater access to, and participation in music.
The full Music Strategy is available to view at the Arts Council website.