UK Music: South West is the Best

The city centre is pictured at evening, with lights illuminating on the building. The dock is pictured in the foreground. ZaZa bazaar is pictured on the right hand sign. On the left of the image a Ferris wheel is pictured.

“Bristol Bristol the place of dreams and possibilities, the place of creative aspirations, culture, commerce and its own seductive music”  

These words from former city poet Miles Chambers capture the sense many of us have of Bristol being a place that has a tangible, deep rooted link to music and the arts.

We’re a city that expresses pride in our local music scene. Whether it be the small, independent venues, where many of our local acts cut their teeth; the clubs and bars that have helped drive a uniquely Bristol sound; huge headliners at Ashton Gate, including the Arctic Monkeys this year; or the rhythm our festivals including carnival – Bristol has music sewn into our seams.

Locally, this sector creates jobs, grows opportunities, and supports thousands of livelihoods across sectors.  

While nationally the night time creative sector has been losing grass roots music venues and nightclubs, Bristol has bucked the trend and held onto these treasured cultural spaces since reopening from the pandemic.

The sector continues to face challenges with the current cost of living crisis, Bristolians demonstrate how treasured these cultural spaces are, and continue to support grass roots music, week in, week out. 

That strength is something now recognised as part of a new report published by UK Music on the state of play in the sector and its link to tourism, with an outstandingly strong showing in the south west.

Of the 14.4 million music tourists seen across the sector, the destination of 1.1 million of these visits was the south west. This attraction to our region generated £683 million of spending, the third highest in the country. The region also boasts the largest number of jobs from music tourism outside of London, with over 7,000 people employed.  

These figures show the economic value the industry brings, and despite this report focussing on regional impact, we can see the impact locally.  

The music industry is a major driver in our night time economy which employs around a third of the city’s workforce. This is an industry that is growing in Bristol and is expected to bring further economic benefits with it. We are taking key steps to protect it.

Bristol has been at the forefront of protecting our night time economy, with Councillor Nicola Beech spearheading the Agent of Change principle to protect live music venues’ atmosphere when new residential development is proposed nearby, meaning the responsibility of soundproofing falls onto the developers shoulders, not the existing venue.

We care deeply about our city’s night time economy. Bristol is the only local authority who employs a paid, full-time Night Time Economy Advisor, who works in partnership with the sector to improve the working conditions of its staff and safety of our audiences. Carly Heath has worked closely with my administration to ensure we can continue to support the sector.

As we look forward to the grand re-opening of the Bristol Beacon and the anticipated crowds that the venue will draw to the city, we also see the city’s new arena appear on the horizon with the additional promise it brings. Neither of these monumental evolutions in the city’s economic and cultural promise would’ve happened without our administration’s decisive action, and now, with the publication of this report, we see further evidence of just how right those decisions were.