New Music Plus… training in Belfast

On Tuesday 26 and Wednesday 27 February all 12 New Music Plus…UK producers came together for a 2 days of practical training sessions at The MAC in Belfast, one of the host organisations taking part in New Music Plus… UK, the professional development programme developed in partnership by PRS for Music Foundation and the hub.

The budding live event producers were taken through their paces, learning valuable skills in the areas of public funding, crowd funding, corporate sponsorship and individual giving. Nicole McNeilly, from PRS for Music Foundation, was there to join in the sessions and catch up with the producers. Here’s her account of the two days she spent in her former home city…

Led by Wendy Smithers, Co-Director of the hub, our second New Music Plus…UK 2 day training residential focussed on fundraising and income generation and was hosted by the newest arts centre in Europe and Northern Ireland’s flagship home for the arts, the MAC Belfast.

The MAC was an appropriate setting for this training session; the success of the current Warhol exhibition and Studio 54 club night is testament to the more than 10 years of hard work it took to bring the MAC into being. Anne McReynolds, the MAC’s Chief Executive, described how valuable nurturing networks and relationships was and continues to be in that process.

The value of relationship building was a feeling shared by the group of independent event producers, whose fundraising experience ranged from self-funding gigs and tours to managing 5 figure funding budgets for cultural organisations. The training theory introduced and consolidated knowledge of available funding streams, including public funding, private funding and sponsorship and individual donations – and some snappy, Dragon’s Den-style pitches for new projects came through in a range of practical exercises.

One of the most interesting topics that emerged from the training was the widely varied opinions on crowd/fan funding. The potential of this relatively new source of income was acknowledged yet passionately debated. Learning how to begin and develop relationships with corporate sponsors was valuable for all, and although securing corporate sponsorship can be difficult, it can be a mutually beneficial and valuable income source.

Corporate sponsorship is not limited to financial investment and Paddy Glasgow, of Glasgowbury Festival, emphasised the potentials of harnessing local passion to secure in-kind resources and support, illustrating his tale by describing lorries donated by a local company that act as stages at Glasgowbury, NI’s largest outdoor festival.

Noah Burton, who has been placed with BEAM in Wakefield, told us:


‘I really enjoyed the training sessions in Belfast, the Mac seemed a thriving bustle of activity and creativity; the product of a many years of hard campaigning and a great asset for the city. The sessions themselves were informative and very relevant to us, as the topic ‘fundraising’ is a key element of producing and a great skill to obtain. The guest speakers not only had insightful and useful fundraising techniques but also seemed extremely interesting characters with much previous experience in their sector. An all round successful trip!'”