Northern Ireland

Belfast bids for Unesco 'city of music' status

titanic belfast
Image caption To gain the designation a city must prove it can host national and international music festivals and events

Belfast is bidding to be approved as a Unesco City of Music by 2023.

There are currently 30 such cities across 23 countries, designated as centres of musical activity including festivals.

The bid is included in Belfast city council's 10-year cultural strategy, which is out for consultation.

A new visitor attraction which tells the Belfast story and film centre is also part of the plan.

Belfast had previously been bidding, alongside Derry and Strabane, to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.

However, the European Commission (EC) ruled that a UK city could not host the title after Brexit.

The council's strategy said that the EC decision should not be seen as "the end of a journey".

"Despite the end of the competition we have decided that we must build on the momentum generated during the bidding process," it said.

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Image caption Belfast's strategy does not specify how much money the council expects to spend in making aspiration become reality

"2023 will be designated a year of culture."

"During 2023 we will launch a year-long programme of immersive cultural activity on a scale that Belfast has never seen before."

By that year, the council also wants Belfast to be recognised as a City of Music by Unesco.

Liverpool and Glasgow are the only two UK cities to currently hold that title.

To gain the designation a city must prove it can host national and international music festivals and events.

It must also specialise in music education and have a number of big and small venues for concerts, gigs and recitals.

The city must also promote all genres of music and get as many people as possible playing and listening to it.

'Landmark signature experience'

Plans for a new visitor attraction telling the story of the city were previously included in the Belfast city deal.

The draft strategy said that it would be: "a landmark signature experience in the heart of the city centre."

"The core element of the hub will be the Belfast story," it said.

"This major cultural attraction will invite visitors to explore the many stories of the city and its people through an immersive multi-gallery experience."

The strategy said that the concept was still being developed but would also include a new film centre and exhibition space.

However, the strategy does not specify how much money the council expects to spend in making aspiration become reality.

"We recognise the importance of public investment in culture," it said.

"However, we must also accept the reality that cities must develop new ways of raising finance as well as new types of cultural investment beyond traditional grant models."

Some councillors had previously disagreed with funding raised for Belfast's Capital of Culture bid being used to fund events to reduce tensions around bonfires.

However the proposal was subsequently approved by the full council.

The new city council strategy - called A City Imagining - is out for public consultation for 12 weeks.

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