Kevin McManus named Head of UNESCO City of Music at Liverpool City Council


Kevin McManus (left) accepts his Inspiration Award at the GIT Award 2016 from LMW’s Mike Deane

Former NME journalist and Liverpool Vision staffer lands top music role for Liverpool City Council, Getintothis’ Peter Guy details the latest music board developments.

Kevin McManus is to head Liverpool City Council‘s music strategy as he is appointed Head of UNESCO City of Music.

McManus, who will leave his role as curator at the Liverpool-based British Music Experience in the autumn and has already started settling into his new role as Head of UNESCO City of Music this week.

The former NME journalist and ex-Liverpool Vision creative and digital investment manager, was instrumental in securing Liverpool’s UNESCO City of Music status in 2015.

Having been involved in the music industry for more than 30 years – writing for The FaceiD and Mixmag, working at the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Popular Music and authoring two books – Kevin McManus was the recipient of the Inspiration Award at the GIT Award 2016 ceremony for his contribution to the music sector.

McManus will be helping to secure Liverpool music’s future while stabilising an increasingly difficult landscape within the city which has seen practice rooms close, mutiple key venues shut, cornerstone festivals axed or take time off and funding significantly reduced across the arts sector.

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The post, which was advertised as an initial 12 month contract, is set to aligned with the as-yet-unannounced Liverpool Music Board which is currently being set up by external BOP Consultants.

BOP had previously led a major investigation of Liverpool’s music sector, which includes live music events, production services, recording studios and music publishing – which generates more than £100m turnover annually – and the findings were profoundly worrying.

The report suggested that Liverpool as a city of music was suffering because:

  • The region is not seen as an industry hub.
  • Homegrown talent leaves for London.
  • Overall the music scene is fragmented with no leading sector voice.
  • A lack of diversity in programming
  • Significant commercial pressures on venues.

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It will now be up to McManus and the resultant board to attempt to help Liverpool and its creative community.

From behind the scenes, McManus contributed to Liverpool’s successful bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008 and played a key role in producing charity singles supporting the Hillsborough Justice Campaign.

McManus has championed creative and digital industries in Liverpool, curating Liverpool Sound City’s conference and festival aspects and developing the Baltic Creative Community Interest Company as well as Liverpool International Music Festival (LIMF).

Read the full report on Liverpool as a city of music and what the future has in store