Arts & Business Awards NI – Two Nominations for Oh Yeah

We are delighted and honoured to have been shortlisted in two categories for the up coming Arts & Business awards. You can view the full list HERE

For the ‘New Sponsorship’ category with Translink for Sound of Belfast 2019 – for the Metro Sessions project and new music competition.

For inspirational Trustee for our former Chair, Shona McCarthy for her brilliant leadership spanning 5 years, helping the organisation and team through a period of transition and change up until 2020. We are incredibly grateful for Shona’s time and support during that period and delighted to see her recognised through this category.

Shona McCarthy:

Shona McCarthy joined the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society as Chief Executive in December 2015. Shona has championed the Edinburgh Fringe as the world’s leading open access, performing arts festival and founded on the principle of freedom of expression. From 2015 – 2020 Shona was Chair of the Oh Yeah Music Centre. From 2011-2014 she was Chief Executive of the Culture Company, leading on Derry – Londonderry’s transformational year as UK City of Culture. Prior to that she was Director of the British Council Northern Ireland.  She headed up Imagine Belfast to deliver Belfast’s bid to be European Capital of Culture in 2001. She also spent many years as Chief Executive of Cinemagic Film Festival for young people, Belfast; and the Foyle Film Festival, Derry; and was Head of Exhibition at the Northern Ireland Film Council. Shona has 32 years experience working in senior leadership positions and was awarded a prestigious Eisenhower Fellowship for Innovation in 2014, making her part of a global network of leaders and influencers, and a NESTA cultural leadership award which took her to work with the Seagull Foundation for the Arts in Calcutta India in 2007.

FREE USE IMAGE Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, Shona McCarthy. 9 May 2016. Picture by JANE BARLOW © Jane Barlow 2016 {all rights reserved} janebarlowphotography@gmail.com m: 07870 152324

Statement from the Arts Collaboration Network

Statement from the Arts Collaboration Network

26 January 2021

NI Arts and Culture sector call for urgent and immediate action from NI Executive

More than 100 arts organisations and individuals took part last week in an online meeting of artists, freelancers, venues and festivals from every part of the arts and culture sector organised by the Arts Collaboration Network (ACN).  Representatives from the Arts Collaboration Network said there is growing anxiety and frustration expressed at the second Big Gathering on 21 January 2021, at the gap between words and actions when it comes to providing practical and financial support.

ACN is now calling on the NI Executive to take urgent action to protect the sector from the impact of ongoing Covid restrictions.

The ACN, an informal network of cultural organisations and individuals across NI, has set out five key issues which need to be addressed in ‘Culture Beyond Covid’ a document sent to Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey and other MLAs. The paper sets out 5 keys asks which are:

  1. Building the sector’s infrastructure, capacity and skills so the arts sector survives to play its part in NI’s recovery.
  • Investment  to address the very significant hardship being experienced by artists, creatives and freelancers many of whom have not benefited from financial support to date
  • A partnership approach to planning a safe re opening of venues
  • A commitment to increasing the annual arts spending to support the renewal of the sector
  • Establishment of a Northern Ireland Cultural Task Force

The arts and culture sector welcomed the Executive’s allocation of £33m to support the arts and heritage sectors. However, in many cases that financial support has still not reached the numerous arts organisations and individuals who so urgently need it, with funding decisions not due until later this month. The current situation is that those monies will then need to be spent before the end of March unless that budgetary restriction is lifted.

This week it has emerged that there is £300m of unallocated funds across the NI Executive. This, at a time when many creative individuals and artists are struggling to feed themselves and their families; and the end of the CRJIS scheme could mean leading culture organizations face closure in the coming weeks and months, with considerable associated job losses. This will lead to irreparable damage to Northern Ireland’s vibrant, creative and unique arts sector.

ACN is appealing to the Executive and to the Assembly to translate the vocal support of Ministers, MLAs and civil servants into immediate action. Other regions throughout these islands are planning for long-term cultural renewal and have established Taskforces to map out a post-Covid strategy for the arts. As yet there is no such Taskforce in Northern Ireland and no plans to create one. There is no proactive planning in place to look at the safe reopening of our venues or for the return of live theatre and music. At a time when politicians across the spectrum express support for the sector, there is only a fleeting mention of the arts and culture in the just published draft Programme for Government.

Since the beginning of this crisis arts organisations have responded with imagination and creativity and continue to provide much needed support and respite in innovative ways for people of all ages and backgrounds from across NI and beyond.

The arts and culture sector plays a vital role in driving our economy and is an integral pillar of society; directly employing thousands of people and supporting tens of thousands others indirectly and attracting local and global tourists.  Research has demonstrated the value the arts play in protecting and enhancing the mental wellbeing of our citizens and the public are missing live events, cultural activity and all the benefits these bring.   Unfortunately, the vocal support from our politicians and civil servants has not translated into commensurate levels of financial assistance. The pandemic has been a body blow to an arts sector that has already been ravaged by years of cuts.

When we emerge from Covid-19, the arts and cultural sector can help Northern Ireland adapt and grow again. The arts can play a unique role in breathing new life into our towns and abandoned city centres; in helping our people heal and cope with loss but only if we survive the pandemic intact.

Now is the time for our Ministers and Executive to take urgent action to avoid a future in which Northern Ireland becomes a cultural wasteland and our citizens lose out on much that they value.

The Arts Collaboration Network is an informal network of the main sector support organisations and a number of creative hubs across Northern Ireland. The people involved are Margaret Henry, Thrive Audience Development, Niamh Flanagan, Theatre and Dance NI, Mary Nagele, Arts & Business NI, Rob Hilken & Noel Kelly, Visual Artists Ireland, Kevin Murphy, Voluntary Arts Ireland, Katherine McDonald, Craft NI, Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah, Sarah Jones, Creative & Cultural Skills, Peter Richards, Golden Thread Gallery/Chair Belfast Visual Arts Forum, Sophie Hayles, Crescent Arts Centre, Cath McBride In Your Space Circus / Chair: DCSDC Arts & Cultural Strategy, Co-Delivery Group, Anne McReynolds and Maeve Hawkins, The MAC, Damien Coyle, University of Atypical and Jenna Hall, Belfast Community Circus School/Co-Chair Belfast Festivals Forum.

NI Music Prize now seeking submissions

It is that time of year again when we open the submission process for albums and singles! While COVID-19 has greatly impacted live music and events, we are still planning to run the NI Music Prize for 2020. We are working on how we might present the event and more details will be announced soon. For now we are very pleased to announce that the submission process is open from Friday 3rd July – Thursday 30th July.

Any eligible NI single or album must have been released between 15th July 2019 – 14th July 2020

For full details, criteria and submission form go HERE

‘Hey Girl’, a song by the Strong Women Choir with Newington Day Centre

Earlier this year The Oh Yeah Music Centre completed a 12 week programme of music activities in partnership with Newington Day Centre.

The project which is supported by the Carers’ Music Fund targets women and girls who are isolated because of their caring responsibilities.

The project was led by Music Director Anne McCambridge and Oh Yeah Music & Older People’s Manager Paul Kane. It took place at Newington Day Centre, an organisation in North Belfast which provides support for older people living in the local community and their carers.

The group of Female Carer’s that came together formed The Strong Women’s Choir. They performed for their loved ones at Christmas and went on to write a song called ‘Hey Girl’, a lighthearted memoir of nights out in Belfast at places like the Orpheus and the Ritz.

This video is a document of the workshops, songwriting and final recording session at Half Bap studio with Phil d’Alton. We think it’s excellent and wanted to share it with you.

Sending all home carers, community care centres, NHS staff and key workers during COVID-19 our deepest appreciation for the work that you do. Stay safe everyone. #clapforcarers

Wynona Bleach all ages Album Preview POSTPONED

In order to play our part in maintaining the health and welfare of our participants, staff, facilitators, audiences and volunteers, we have taken the decision to postpone this Friday’s Volume Control event.

Rest assured that we are working hard to find a new date for the show and this will be announced in due course.

If you have any questions please feel free to send us a message.

Thanks for your continued support of young people and the local music scene!

Oh Yeah Music Centre Update on Covid-19 Concerns


With the ongoing developments and concerns about Covid-19 we wanted to let you know about the additional cleaniness measures that we have implemented. The health and welfare of Oh Yeah’s staff, tenants, visitors, (we should add- participants, audiences, volunteers, facilitators and other centre users is our top priority. 


Here are the measures that Oh Yeah staff are undertaking to help prevent the spread of the virus and help protect users of the centre.

·       The frequency of our normal cleaning schedules have been increased, and additional measures are being taken in our rehearsal rooms.

·       “High-touch” surfaces such as door handles, lift buttons etc are now being treated with additional disinfectant throughout the day. 

·       Our public bathrooms are fully stocked with soap and signs have been placed throughout to instruct on safe hand washing techniques

·       We have implemented a non hand shake policy in the centre

·       Visitors are being asked to wash their hands upon entry to the centre

·       We would encourage customers to please pay by contactless debit or credit card where possible

We are taking instruction from Government and the Public Health Agency and as such we remain open as normal at present. We recognise that due to conflicting information and the fluidity of the situation this may change and as such we will update in due course.