We meet Liverpool’s new Head of UNESCO City of Music
A leading figure in Liverpool’s music industry has been named Head of UNESCO City of Music.
We spoke to Kevin McManus about his new role which will see him deliver music development activities which will support, promote and enhance the city’s music sector.
How can we continue to develop the local music scene and upcoming musicians? How can we offer more support to independent music venues? And how can we enhance the legacy left by the Beatles?
The role involves working alongside local and national industry figures to develop a music strategy which will give Liverpool a clear voice when it comes to discussing the future of the music sector and how to grow the economy around it.
Other responsibilities include bidding for funding to invest in the sector and working with partners to develop an overarching UNESCO World City of Music brand.
Kevin said: “I’m so pleased to be given the opportunity to build on this city’s amazing reputation and develop the UNESCO role so it can make a tangible difference to the sector, to music fans and to the local economy.
“There are some challenges ahead, but to work on taking forward a strategy in a city world-renowned for its music offer is a dream come true. Not only do we have a music heritage that is second to none, we are a city that continues to consistently produce outstanding music talent, and that has a rich seam of diverse festivals, great independent music venues, and innovative music businesses.
“One of the key priorities is to sustain and grow the industry and ensure that this growth is inclusive. I look forward to working with key people, not only across Liverpool but across the UK and internationally to ensure Liverpool remains on the respected music pedestal it deserves to be on.
“I am excited that I will be able to work closely with the newly established City Region Music Board on all aspects of this work in the coming months.”
Kevin has worked in the music industry for more than 30 years, and prior to taking up the UNESCO role he was the Curator at the British Music Experience – the UK’s only national museum that celebrated British rock and pop music.
He started his career writing for influential publication NME, and later went on to work for the University of Liverpool where he wrote a number of books about Liverpool’s music history.
For nearly 20 years, Kevin led the pioneering creative industries sector development agency for Liverpool, Merseyside ACME, with achievements including the setting up of the Baltic Creative CIC and establishing Sound City.
He was part of the small team who wrote Liverpool’s successful bid to become European Capital of Culture bid, and led on the city’s application to become a UNESCO City of Music.
Assistant Mayor and cabinet member for culture, tourism and events, Councillor Wendy Simon, said: “This is a hugely important role for the city and I’m delighted that Kevin, who has such extensive, and passionate knowledge of music, the music industry and Liverpool’s vital place within the industry, has taken the helm.
“To be awarded the UNESCO title was a huge coup, and means we have been globally recognised for the value we place on music – but we want to continue to make sure it infiltrates the lives of people who live, work and play here.
“As a city world-renowned for its music offer, we want to make sure the experience people have is a positive, high quality one, and part of Kevin’s role will be to take that challenge head on, and I’m confident he will do a fantastic job for Liverpool.”
Liverpool became a UNESCO City of Music in December 2015, and is the second city in the UK to be given the honour – Glasgow received it in 2008.