Debate raging on Sunderland’s music scene

NEW MATERIAL ... Frankie & The Heartstrings.

NEW MATERIAL ... Frankie & The Heartstrings.

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A PASSIONATE debate about Sunderland’s thriving music scene has broken out among band members, fans and council bosses.

The discussion was sparked after a national newspaper’s online article which celebrated Wearside’s recent musical success.

Bands such as The Futureheads, Field Music and Frankie & the Heartstrings have raised the profile of home-grown Mackem music, but many have condemned claims that a “proactive local authority” has played an integral role in their success.

Coun John Kelly, portfolio holder for safer city and culture, is quoted in the article on The Guardian’s online Northerner blog as saying: “Live music has grown tremendously with the introduction of a music strategy adopted by Sunderland City Council in 2008.”

But many local bands say that any success they’ve achieved has been through their own blood, sweat and tears.

Dave Harper, from Frankie & the Heartstrings, said: “The proactive local authority only exists within their own bureaucratic parameters and from experience I can tell you that engaging with the local authority is extremely difficult for the so-called enterprising promoters, of which there have been very very few.”

Dave Brewis from Field Music, said: “A successful music scene does not come from a monolithic infrastructure or a clever long-term business strategy. It doesn’t come from lots of industry-savvy bands making the most of their commercial potential.”

Coun Paul Watson, leader of Sunderland City Council, says that opinions about music in Sunderland are welcome.

“Music and the arts is a very emotive subject for some people, and the level of debate generated by this article on the music scene in our city demonstrates the depth of feeling and passion people have for it,” he said.