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Traditional Music - a significant social and cultural asset for Northern Ireland

Thursday 12th November 2015 at 10am

Martin Preshaw pictured is just one of Northern Ireland's distinguished instrument makers, renowned for his Uileann Pipes.
Image: Martin Preshaw pictured is just one of Northern Ireland's distinguished instrument makers, renowned for his Uileann Pipes.

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland has today announced the findings and recommendations arising from an audit of the Traditional Music Sector in Northern Ireland.

The audit carried out earlier this year is a key objective of the Arts Council’s Music Strategy 2013-2018. Included within the terms of reference for the audit was a need to establish the quantity and quality of all Traditional Music Services, and to assess the level of accessibility to the Traditional Music Sector and instruments.

Ciaran Scullion, Head of Music, Arts Council of Northern Ireland welcomed the completion of the audit and the publication of findings from the work.

Ciaran said: ‘What the audit evidenced was the significant size and reach of the Traditional Music Sector and its importance to many people in communities right across Northern Ireland. With over 400 teachers engaging with over 5,200 students, most of them under the age of 24years, this is a vibrant, developing sector and we hope this report provides a step towards a better understanding of it.

The audit also affirms the vitally important and valuable role that the non-statutory sector plays in maintaining and developing the traditional arts in Northern Ireland.  There are significant challenges ahead when addressing current and future needs but we aim to use this evidence to encourage investment in the Traditional Music sector and recognise it as a significant cultural and social asset for Northern Ireland.”

Artists, arts organisations and schools across Northern Ireland were invited to participate within the audit. A total of 156 responses were received upon which a series of findings and recommendations have been presented. Key findings based on the audit returns reveal:

• There are 118 provides of Traditional Music Tuition services across towns, cities and villages in Northern Ireland
• 452 Traditional Music classes are held on a weekly basis
• 406 teachers are engaged in teaching 5,295 students
• 70% of Traditional Music students are aged between 6 & 24
• Over 80% of Traditional Music Classes cost £4 or less each week

Based on the findings of the audit, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland has agreed a 3-year Action Plan for the development of the Traditional Music Sector. The action plan has 10 priority areas which include improving access to instruments and tuition, developing a programme of training for music tutors and to collaborate with strategic partners including tutors and Tourism NI to respond to unmet demand for Traditional Music.