The Pirate Party in Manchester. Looking forward to the Ancoats and Clayton By-election, December 2013

Manchester Council Hits The Wrong Note


Alicia Keys (Photo: José Goulão)

Council budgets are under pressure right now and so much of our city is in need of regeneration. This is why many have been shocked at the Labour council’s decision to blow a whopping £425,000 putting on an MTV concert featuring Alicia Keys. Not content with bank bailouts, we are now getting music industry bailouts as well. This seems all too typical of a town hall that seems obsessed with style over substance.

The council has attempted to justify the event by claiming it represents millions of pounds worth of promotion and it is a ”great advert” for the city. It’s difficult to see how they arrived at the figures of £6.6 million. Also, given that Alicia Keys has been promoting her new album, if you follow the council’s logic, all of us in Manchester have subsidised £6.6 million worth of advertising for ”Girl on Fire ”. Much was made of a mention in the Washington Post, an article which is not currently available online anymore. It’s worth pointing out the coverage was far from blanket praise, the Independent described the event as a ”washout”.

What is particularly shameful is that £250,000 of the bill came from a European regeneration pot of money, the Manchester Evening News reports. This money belongs out in our neglected communities, not in the pockets of the music industry.

It’s not just the council that are at fault. The Pirate Party has always warned about the big labels’ demands on government. In an attempt to sure up profits they have pushed for laws that threaten to snoop on people and chuck them off the Internet, they have pushed for website blocking powers. We even have the Serious Crime squad investigating RnB blogs, when most people will surely want them to be concentrating on their real job of dealing with gun crime and people trafficking. Now recording label fat cats want subsidies too.

Of course we want cultural events and things for young people to do in Manchester. Something like our International Festival produces great work and a real legacy for our city and for culture more widely. But there is no reason why we should be footing the bill to promote an album. We should ask ourselves what image we want to send out to the rest of the world. Our Manchester music scene is about much more than the ever increasingly trivial commercial pop world. It certainly sends the wrong signal that we value flashy events over regenerating our city. 


2 Kommentare zu Manchester Council Hits The Wrong Note

  1. Bill Gates said on

    This is part of an attempt to get the mtv europe music awards 2015 into the city which could bring £140M into the city.

    Also Manchester council is looking to find £170M in savings over the next 2 years, this amount of money is tiny in the grand scheme of things and could bring a lot into the city.

    • ajehals said on

      The amounts that people are talking about when it comes to ‘bringing money in’ to the city really need to have some evidence to support them. Take the 12million that is repeatedly announced for broadband improvements, the ROI on that seems to be of such a huge margin that one would assume a private company would already have pounced on it… The reality is that we are seeing re-announcements of the same money, none of which is really sufficient to make a dent. The Loop (widely reported on a while ago) cost £300million to put in place and lay partially dormant for a decade, how will £12 million suddenly raise hundreds of million in benefits?

      And yes, the savings required in the next few years are fairly massive, but if you look at some of the spending it is hard to see how it can possibly be properly focused. The £425k for a concert that doesn’t really seem to have promoted the city (and where the benefits seem to have gone to the MEN and the few who could get tickets) represents a small chunk sure, but if we keep spending a bit here and a bit there, then there is less elsewhere.

      Lets not forget the few million on the work to be done on library work too.. There is a lot being spent on things that could wait until we see a bit more of a recovery whilst we are seeing cuts to services that are needed in a recession..

      If this concert is likely to bring in even a fraction of £140M, where is the private funding, where are the companies and businesses that will see most of the benefit? I understand (and agree..) that the council has a job to bring new business, tourism and other opportunities into Manchester, but is almost half a million on a fairly exclusive concert even going to pay for itself and if so when and how…?

      I think there were better things to spend this money on and I think it’s pretty obscene to suggest that it’s a fair gamble, it isn’t.

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