Gary Flockhart: City centre stage on music map

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Next weekend, I’ll be attending a music festival in the centre of Bruges – a modest-sized one, but nevertheless substantial enough to attract some stellar names to the Belgian city.

The weekend after next, I’ve got tickets for not one, but two, gigs in Glasgow, with a trip to the impressive Sage Gateshead, pictured below, in between.

As exciting (and costly) as all that jet-setting and train-hopping sounds, these are the lengths I have to go to these days to get my fix of live music, such is the shortage of action in these parts.

And to think, too, I live in a city that prides itself on being one of the world’s great cultural capitals.

It was music to my ears, then, to read that some of Edinburgh’s most influential musicians and promoters have been invited to take part in an industry summit aimed at boosting the scene.

As reported in the Evening News, the strategy will see a live music taskforce formed by city councillors featuring bands, promoters and venue owners – all tasked with agreeing a five-year vision.

Renting out empty council buildings as performance and rehearsal space, altering licensing laws to make it easier to lay on gigs, and introducing loans to support noise reduction are among the proposals being examined.

I share the opinion of many others in the music community that the council needs to have a joined-up approach, and there is little point in the culture committee advocating something which will be scuppered by the planning or licensing arm.

But it’s encouraging that the council is showing a willingness to engage with the city’s music community, and hopefully it will lead to a greater understanding of what the venues, record shops, promoters and artists need in order for our music scene to thrive again.

In short, if the suits listen to what they are told at the summit, there is scope to make a big difference.

• Gary Flockhart is the Evening News music writer