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Un-Convention & MaMA reveal collaboration project

The October industry events will host special panel sessions in Manchester and Paris in an effort to resolve post-Brexit touring issues

By Gordon Masson on 13 Jul 2023

The Live panel from last year's Un-Convention conference


image © Brendon Clayton

Manchester’s music industry conference, Un-Convention and Parisian festival MaMA have today announced a new partnership which will see them collaborating on panel content around post-Brexit touring, as well as showcasing emerging UK talent.

The two events, which both take place in October, will see music professionals from the UK and Europe participate in discussions around the challenges that artists, booking agents and festivals face as they navigate the post-Brexit live sector, and will seek to establish practical next steps to make progress on the issues highlighted.

Debates on the topic will be held consecutively at MaMA (11-13 October), and Un-Convention (20-21 October), and will mirror one another with contributors including Musicians’ Union’s head of international, Dave Webster, speaking in both Paris and Manchester.

The announcement comes in the wake of renewed calls by the UK music industry for more to be done to support British musicians seeking to tour in the EU. Artists including Elton John, alongside the head of the Music Managers Forum, Annabella Coldrick highlighted in the Sunday Times this weekend the scale of the challenge, with the number of UK artists touring Europe this summer down by one third compared to the number touring in 2019.

It’s no great surprise that there has been a significant decline in the number of UK artists that are able to get out to Europe to play

As well as working together on debate topic content, the two organisations are also collaborating to present UK artists as part of the MaMA showcase programme. Supported by the Greater Manchester Music Commission emerging artists, Phoebe Green and Soup!, will be joining the line-up for the Paris gathering, which last year claimed attendance of over 6,500 music industry professionals from 45 countries.

Speaking about the partnership, Jeff Thompson, co-founder of Un-Convention said, “Sadly, it’s no great surprise that there has been a significant decline in the number of UK artists that are able to get out to Europe to play. We work with a lot of emerging and mid-level artists and as the live industry has started to pick up again it really is coming into sharp focus the impact that post-Brexit regulations are having, increasing the cost, and indeed risk for artists looking to get a foothold in EU markets.

“With European audiences being so significant for many artists, and indeed the UK being an important destination for many European performers, we are really keen to look at practical steps we can work on to improve the situation. Hence, we hope that working with organisations such as MaMA and the Musicians’ Union and keeping the debate firmly on the agenda on both sides of the Channel, is a step in the right direction.”

Through this project, working with Un-Convention, we are looking to strengthen cultural links between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.

Director of MaMA, Fernando Ladeiro-Marques added, “Post-Brexit we all face a real challenge, and now more than ever we need to make it clear to our British friends that this separation cannot call into question decades of shared history and collaboration. Through this project, working with Un-Convention, we are looking to strengthen cultural links between the United Kingdom and the rest of Europe.

“By showcasing British artists in our concerts, welcoming guest speakers to our debates and conferences, and opening our doors to numerous professionals from the UK music industry, we aim to make MaMA a bridge on which culture, business and people meet without apprehension.”

The partnership announcement with MaMA forms part of Un-Convention’s 15th anniversary celebrations which culminate with their annual music industry conference. Key organisations from across the UK music industry including the Music Managers Forum, Music Venue Trust, Musicians’ Union, Featured Artists Coalition, LIVE and the Association of Independent Festivals have already confirmed their participation in the event, and will be joined by a host of speakers from the likes of EMI North, Sony Music, Press On Vinyl and many more.

Un-Convention Manchester is taking place from 20-21 October at Band on the Wall and the Methodist Central Hall in Manchester’s Northern Quarter.

 


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