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West Midlands Music Board launches in UK

The West Midlands Music Board (WMMB), a new body designed to serve as a collective voice for the music industry in the West Midlands region, has launched in England.

Led by Nick Reed of B:Music (formerly THSH), the charity which runs Birmingham’s Symphony Hall (2,262-seat) and Town Hall (1,086-seat) venues, WMMB also counts NEC Group’s Guy Dunstan, promoter Danni Brownsill, Birmingham Pride organiser Lawrence Barton and Academy Music Group’s Louise Stamp as board members.

Created in response to the prolonged shutdown due to the pandemic, the West Midlands Music Board will advocate for, compile data on, and lead the local music sector, which supports more than 3,500 jobs.

Black Sabbath’s Tony Iommi, along with Lady Leshurr and Joan Armatrading one of several local artists supporting the WMMB, comments: “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.”

The WMMB will 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.

“There has never been a more important time to unite”

In alphabetical order, WMMB board members are:

“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,” comments Reed. “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. […] 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.”


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Birmingham arenas launch anti-homophobia campaign

NEC Group-owned Arena Birmingham (15,800-cap.) and Resorts World Arena (15,685-cap.) have become the first in the UK to tackle homophobic acts through the ‘Ask for Clive’ campaign.

The campaign encourages venues to show solidarity against discriminatory behaviour. Posters on display let customers know that if they see any abuse of LGBTQ people they can report it to staff by “asking for Clive”.

Those affected can then access a safe space whilst the incident is investigated and the appropriate action is taken.

The campaign is named after the organiser of the annual Herts Pride event and advocate for sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust, Clive Duffey.

Similar code-word safety initiatives are already used within the live event space, including FKP Scorpio’s anti-harassment scheme Which way to Panama? and Ask for Angela, which is used by those experiencing sexual violence or feeling unsafe in venues across UK and the world.

“I am delighted to have two of the UK’s leading live entertainment venues on board in Resorts World Arena and Arena Birmingham,” says Ask for Clive founder Danny Clare.

“Ask for Clive’s message will now be seen by millions of live-event fans, which will play a big part towards eradicating unacceptable behaviour

“Ask for Clive’s message will now be seen by millions of live-event fans, which will play a big part towards the ultimate goal of eradicating unacceptable behaviour and building a visible support network for everyone in the wider community.”

Guy Dunstan, who was promoted to director of arenas at NEC Group in January, says assuring the safety of all guests is “important” to the venue operator.

“Ask For Clive is such an important initiative in the stand against homophobia and transphobia,” comments Dunstan. “We hope that we can encourage both other venues in Birmingham and other arenas across the UK to follow suit and take a stand too.”

The NEC Group was acquired by US private-equity giant the Blackstone Group in October 2018, in a deal believed to exceed £800 million.

The group’s portfolio includes Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, the International Convention Centre and the Vox Conference Centre, as well as ticket agency the Ticket Factory.


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