Manchester wins bid to host WOMEX international music convention in October 2024

  • Friday 6 October 2023

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A crowd of people waving their arms in the air as they look towards a stage as balloons and confetti rain down.

Live concerts will take place at venues across the city

International music convention WOMEX will be coming to Manchester next year after the city won its bid to host the prestigious global event on behalf of the UK and Ireland next autumn, 23-27 October 2024.

WOMEX - Worldwide Music Expo - is the most international and culturally diverse music meeting in the world and the biggest conference of the global music scene.  

It takes place each year in a different European city and features a huge trade fair, talks, films and showcase concerts.  While the daytime activities are reserved for music industry delegates, the live night-time music events will be ticketed and open to members of the public as well as delegates.

With Manchester Music City at its helm, Manchester's winning bid was led by the city council with partners Brighter Sound, English Folk Expo, Marketing Manchester, the hub, Factory International, Horizons, British Council and Arts Council England.

Hosting WOMEX will put Manchester firmly front and centre of the international music scene with the event expected to attract over 2,600 music professionals and performing artists from around 90 different countries.

Its musical spectrum covers everything from the most traditional of music forms to the latest local underground, embracing folk, roots, jazz and local cultures, alongside urban and electronic sounds from across the globe.

The convention will take place at venues across the city centre - with Manchester Central hosting the main conference and trade fair, and venues including Aviva Studios, Albert Hall, Bridgewater Hall and O2 Ritz all set to host live music showcases, alongside a programme of international films at HOME.

Debra King, Director of Manchester Music City, said: “As a city with music in its DNA, where better to host one of the most important international music events in the world. Bringing WOMEX to Manchester in 2024 demonstrates a strong commitment to the value of international music, and of being connected to the global music industry.

"Hosting WOMEX will help us to promote our incredible city region on the world stage, strengthen our reputation as an innovative, diverse and international hub for music, and channel our innovative and creative spirit into supporting new waves of talent. The impact of WOMEX 2024 will be made possible by the partnership with UK and Ireland, ensuring a cultural, social, and economic legacy resonating across the city region, the North and beyond.”

The economic impact of hosting the conference in Manchester is expected to be significant.

Based on similar global events of this size hosted in the UK it's estimated that the total value of business generated at WOMEX 2024 will be around £28.3m, of which an estimated £5.6m will be generated by UK delegates (see note 2 to editors).

Beyond the value of business done at the event itself, the conference and related live events are expected to provide a direct economic boost to Manchester and the city region of between £2.9m - £3.2m.

The convention is also expected to generate a significant economic impact across the wider UK of between £6.3m - £7.2m.

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said: "The figures speak for themselves in terms of the economic impact that hosting WOMEX 2024 on behalf of the UK will have.  But this isn't just about the numbers.  Just as important will be the real opportunities it will give our musicians and other professionals working in the music industry to network and do business on their own doorstep with their peers from around the globe.

"In Manchester we've long recognised the powerful role that music and culture can play in regeneration, creating jobs, and other opportunities, and are determined to do everything we can to support the sector and the people who work in it."

As well as a packed programme across the five days and nights of the convention, work is also underway to ensure that WOMEX 2024 creates a tangible, lasting legacy for everyone involved in music in Manchester, the North, and across the UK and Ireland.  This work is being led by Manchester based Brighter Sound. 

With an overarching focus on social justice and sustainability, it's hoped the plans being developed will better help musicians, producers, promoters and other music professionals of all ages - including young people - to make a sustainable living from music , locally, nationally and internationally.

Kate Lowes, from Brighter Sound, said: “Brighter Sound is delighted to be leading on the legacy programme for WOMEX 2024. We’ll be working collaboratively to do this and bringing our passion for inclusion and equality into the heart of the work we deliver. We’re looking forward to working with communities of young creatives, artists and independents from across the region, in partnership with the UK and Ireland, to amplify the amazing work that is already happening and to have a long-lasting impact on the sector for generations to come.”

Whilst the convention itself is aimed at musicians and professionals in the music industry, there will also be a full programme of live music showcases and films that will be put on sale to the general public. 

Tom Besford, from event delivery partner English Folk Expo, said: "Manchester will be an amazing place to host WOMEX. Whilst I'm incredibly excited to welcome the international music industry to our city, it's even more brilliant to have thousands of tickets available for local audiences to some of the most spectacular worldwide bands. 

"You might not have heard of WOMEX before, but this really is the best gathering of global music anywhere. I hope music lovers from across the region and beyond embrace this once-in-a-generation event to discover life-changing music."

WOMEX is owned and produced by Berlin-based organisation Piranha Arts, who will be celebrating the event's 30th anniversary in Manchester in 2024.

Alex Walter, Director, WOMEX, said: "It is wonderful to be in Manchester, marking the 30th anniversary of WOMEX amidst the vibrant cultural boom and diversity of this city. Gathering the global music community in Manchester, alongside friends, collaborators and creative minds from the UK and Ireland and beyond, presents a remarkable opportunity for all. We are all very excited."

Piranha Arts will be working closely with Manchester Music City and the rest of the Manchester event team over the next year to help market the convention to potential delegates around the world and to help ensure its success.

Sheona Southern, Managing Director at Marketing Manchester, said: "We're delighted to hear that WOMEX, the pinnacle meeting of the global music industry, is coming to Manchester in 2024. This is a truly significant occasion for the city, which has a rich and illustrious musical heritage that has left a lasting mark on the global music scene. Manchester has always been at the forefront of innovation and creativity in music and hosting WOMEX reaffirms our position as a vibrant and influential hub in the music industry. With over 2,600 professionals and artists from 90 countries converging on the city, we anticipate a remarkable exchange of ideas, sounds, and experiences. This event is a testament to the power of music in the city and we will be delighted to welcome the world to us in 2024."

WOMEX 2024 is being supported by Arts Council England, British Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority, and Manchester City Council.

Jen Cleary, Director North, Arts Council England, said:“It is fantastic news that WOMEX is coming to Manchester in 2024 and I’m delighted that we have awarded a grant of £300,000 towards this hugely significant event. Alongside the concerts, trade fair and talks, it will provide an opportunity to showcase the very best of our local music and culture to international promoters as well as highlighting the quality and breadth of the region’s music sector. The accompanying programme working with artists, schools and community music groups will ensure that this global event engages with local audiences and creatives while delivering a positive economic impact to the city. Manchester is well known for its extraordinary music scene and I’m looking forward to seeing it celebrated next October.”

Joel Mills, Director Music, British Council, said:“We’re thrilled that Manchester will be hosting WOMEX in 2024. As a global music conference and showcase, it will offer wonderful opportunities to bring new cultural connections for the city and across the wider UK. We are committed to supporting Manchester Music City to build on our WOMEXchange partnership programme that will nurture and build international relationships that can reflect the exciting and vibrant diversity of its music communities.”

To stay updated about WOMEX 2024 sign up to the Manchester Music City mailing list or follow Manchester Music City on Instagram for regular updates.

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