IT WAS ANNOUNCED yesterday that Belfast has been awarded ‘City of Music’ status by UNESCO, aiming to celebrate the city’s rich musical heritage and recognising the importance of music to the city’s future development.
Belfast is the only Irish city to be given the honour, and only the third between Britain and Ireland, with Liverpool receiving ‘City of Music’ status in 2016 and Glasgow receiving it in 2008.
Prior to the awards announcement yesterday, there were only 39 Cities of Music forming part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network worldwide.
Snow Patrol lead singer and bandleader Gary Lightbody along with Emmy-nominated composer Hannah Peel have been appointed official Belfast Music patrons, having supported and committed to the delivery of the Belfast bid.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Kate Nicholl, said: “We are thrilled and honoured that Belfast has been bestowed the prestigious UNESCO ‘City of Music’ title and to have Gary Lightbody and Hannah Peel on board as official patrons. This is wonderful news for Belfast!
“Belfast is proud of its music culture. Creativity and resilience are in the very fabric of our city and our people.
“Last April, we launched a 10 year cultural strategy which will see a ‘year of culture’ in 2024.
“The UNESCO accolade is the perfect way to kickstart these plans, much of which revolves around music.”
The designation came after a consultation in 2017, when UNESCO asked 20,000 participants the question, ‘What does home mean to you?’
When it came to Belfast, organisers found that music was a recurring theme.
This should come as no surprise given that Belfast was a major epicentre for the garage rock revolution of the 1960s with the formation of Them, the home of Van Morrison, as well as Thin Lizzy founding members Eric Bell and Gary Moore, and punk bands the Stiff Little Fingers, Rudi and The Outcasts.
Having secured the prestigious ‘City of Music’ title, Belfast will deliver a series of high profile music events over the next few years, while continuing to build its infrastructure and further support music creators.