West Midlands Music Board launches to boost post-pandemic recovery of region’s music industry

London Grammar At Town Hall Birmingham May 2017 Image Jason Sheldon Junction 10 Photography

Culture Central has announced today the launch of the first ever West Midlands Music Board (WMMB), with an ambitious plan, led by a diverse board of high-profile West Midlands industry insiders chaired by Nick Reed the CEO of B:Music, the music charity responsible for Symphony Hall and Town Hall, to foster the recovery and growth of the region’s music sector, through the ongoing restrictions and beyond the lockdown.

Until now, there has been an absence of a dedicated music board to provide the West Midlands with a collective strategic voice to advocate for, compile data on and lead the local music sector. The development of the West Midlands Music Board has been created in close consultation with local stakeholders, in recognition and response to the significant adverse impact of the pandemic on the music sector in West Midlands - which comprises festivals, music educators, record labels, venues, production, large scale and commercial stakeholders, and contributes a significant portion of the UK’s £5bn industry, with a music tourism sector that supports over 3500 jobs.

Respected West Midlands artists Lady Leshurr, Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) and Joan Armatrading have all championed the new board.

There is an amazing music scene in the West Midlands, and we need to shout about it more. We need investment, training and opportunities for our talent to break through. It’s great to see this board come together to make that happen.

Lady Leshurr

The West Midlands has an incredible musical history, and it is still bursting with new talent. I’m pleased to see this new board come together to make sure that music is recognised as a key part of the economy and gets the chance to thrive.

Tony Iommi

The West Midlands has always had a great music scene, but the sector has never before had a unified voice. I’m delighted to see the formation of this new board, which will ensure that the region’s musicians, fans, venues, labels, managers and freelancers are represented in every conversation about strategy and investment. Music gives the region its soul and identity, and it needs to have this voice.

Joan Armatrading

The WMMB will operate independently and cover the whole of the West Midlands, including Birmingham, Coventry, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Solihull, Staffordshire, Stoke on Trent, Telford and Wrekin, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire. The WMMB board members include (in alphabetical order): 

  • Lawrence Barton – Venue Manager, Chair of Southside BID, organiser of PRIDE festival in Birmingham
  • Danni Brownsill – Regional representative for Music Venues Trust, music promoter, runs The Sugarmill, Stoke on Trent
  • Guy Dunstan – NEC Group MD for Ticketing & Arenas (The Ticket Factory, Resorts World Arena and Utilita Arena Birmingham)
  • Bobby Friction – Radio broadcaster, BBC Asian Network, regional talent development programmes
  • Holly Hollister – founder of Selextorhood  and co director of BABMAG, DJ, promoter, music communicator and connector with focus on women and emerging talent
  • Pete Jordan – MD, MADE Festival and Weird Science (Large scale festivals and Events)
  • Alicja Kaczmarek – Founder and Director, Centrala, independent arts venue 
  • Lisa Meyer – Home of Metal and Capsule, with focus on Festivals and Music Heritage
  • Sarah Morgan - Tin Music and Arts in Coventry – representing Coventry Music Board
  • Nick Reed – WMMB chair and CEO of B:Music, the music charity responsible for Symphony Hall and Town Hall 
  • Reuben Reynolds – Artist, producer, mentor, band leader, arranger, director and teacher, working with bands and songwriters
  • Despa Robinson – Talent manager, label owners, Founder & Director BE83 Music, management, recording and publishing
  • Louise Stamp – General Manager of O2 Academy Birmingham / O2 Institute Birmingham (Academy Music Group)

The board aims to represent a unique identity, by placing music and the wider night-time economy in the West Midlands at the heart of national and regional strategy. We will work to ensure that decisions around investment, training, planning and skills allow our incredible music sector to flourish and grow, creating jobs and sustainable careers here in the West Midlands. A key part of our work will be ensuring that these careers are open and inclusive to all. From the national levelling up agenda to local transport policy, the WMMB will speak with a unified voice for music in the region. We are coming together at a time when the postponement of Stage 4 is causing profound and extended hardship for everyone in our sector. There has never been a more important time to unite, and I am delighted to chair the board, and to be working with such a talented group of people.

Nick Reed, WMMB chair & CEO of B:Music

It's an absolute honour to serve the city and region that’s given me so much over the years, and welcomed me as one of its own. Birmingham is without doubt THE British city of the future. The future success of the United Kingdom and our brilliant city are inextricably interwoven with each other and by working with my other board members, we will ensure the economy, the arts and the people of the West Midlands make the next few decades a UK success story.

Bobby Friction, WMMB board member and broadcaster

The WMMB’s mission is to champion the region’s music industry and ecosystem, protect and promote music industry development at grassroots level and work with local authorities, institutions and government to develop regional data, policies and advocacy. It has prioritised four key objectives:

  1. ECONOMIC GROWTH AND RECOVERY: Increase the value of the West Midlands music economy and advocate for support across recovery conversations.
  2. INCLUSION: Support equity, diversity and inclusion across the music ecosystem in all forms and functions and be deliberate and intentional in these aims. 
  3. REPRESENTATION: Representation of the West Midlands music industry and ecosystem locally, regionally and nationally.
  4. ADVOCACY: Collect and compile relevant data to support increased investment in the wider music ecosystem and industry in the region.