Board changes at Oh Yeah

Belfast music hub Oh Yeah makes key appointments to its Board of Trustees

July 2020

The Belfast-based music hub, the Oh Yeah Music Centre, has appointed former BBC executive Paul Evans to the role of Chair of the Board. This follows the departure of the outgoing Chair, Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive Officer of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, after five years at the helm. Shona steered Oh Yeah through a huge amount of organisational, developmental and strategic changes, supporting transition and transformation which has led to a stronger and more robust organisation.

Paul Evans will now head the organisation as it heads towards its 14th year of operations in May 2021. Until his retirement as Head of Production for BBC NI, Paul Evans had editorial responsibility for a portfolio of entertainment output that included Give My Head Peace, Patrick Kielty, Across The Line, and the Hot Press Rock and Pop Awards. Throughout his distinguished career, he has produced multiple programmes for BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio 1, 2 and 4, and BBC NI Television. Whilst retired from his full time role, he continues to work with the BBC and is currently executive producer of The Blame Game and Give My Head Peace.

The Board is also bidding a fond farewell to its Vice Chair, Mike Edgar, who was instrumental in setting up the charity in 2007 and has served on the Board since its inception. Mike until recently was also Head of Entertainment , Events and Music Television for BBC NI and is now running his own independent television production company, MEP, dedicated to live music. The role of Vice Chair will be taken up by Lynne Best (née McDowell) who has been a committed Board Member since 2014 and continues to be an advocate for the NI music sector.

Charlotte Dryden, Oh Yeah CEO said: “It has been a privilege and honour to work with Shona and Mike in my tenure as CEO in recent years. Their dedication to Oh Yeah, leadership of the Board, support for me and our wonderful team, and sheer passion for music in NI has been an inspiration. Together, they have helped to steer the organisation to new heights, ensuring at all times that we do all we can to open doors to music. I am sad to see them step down but know they will remain trusted friends of Oh Yeah as we move into a new and exciting part of our journey with Paul and Lynne directing our steps. They bring with them a wealth of experience, a creative vision, and real dedication, and I wish them every success in their new roles. We’re very lucky to have such a committed and supportive Board.”

Outgoing Chair Shona McCarthy said: “I loved every minute of my time chairing Oh Yeah, an absolute gem in the cultural infrastructure of Belfast and an essential resource for the development of musicians and music from across the North. I will continue to be a lifelong friend and advocate, wishing ongoing success to Charlotte, her brilliant team and trustees.”

Paul Evans said: “If ever there was a time for those of us at Oh Yeah to keep faith with the goals and aspirations that were set by its founders, that is surely now. I firmly believe that our lives are enhanced by the presence of music, in whatever form, for whatever taste and, in these uncertain times, those whose gifts and talents create our music deserve all the support we can give them. The Oh Yeah mission continues and at its core is the enthusiasm, expertise and experience of its staff and board, from many walks of life, who share the sheer joy to be found in music and those who create it. I am delighted to be part of this team.”

Mike Edgar said: “Oh Yeah is the beating heart of Music in Belfast, it is run by a very wonderful team and utilised and enjoyed by artists and audiences alike in their thousands. It is a very precious place playing a vital role and adding hugely to the cultural life of Belfast and wider afield. It has been an absolute honour for me to have served on the board since its inception and I fully intend for it to remain as an important part of my life going forward. I wish Paul, Lynne, Charlotte and all the board and team all the very best for what I hope continues to be a bright future.”

Lynne Best said: “The work of the Oh Yeah Music Centre is vital to the development of NI’s talented music scene and the integration of music into our communities. The passion and dedication of their staff and volunteers – including through lockdown – is and continues to be second to none. It has been a privilege – and a lot of fun – working alongside and learning from Shona and Mike and I am delighted to have been appointed Vice Chair of such an effective and important organisation. I’m proud of everything it has achieved so far and am excited for the next chapter.”

Oh Yeah is Belfast’s dedicated music hub, a resource for music makers and also for the business of music. It combines the verve and resourcefulness of the music industry with a programme of social value. It was constituted in the belief that music is a valuable agent in Northern Ireland, a catalyst that changes lives for the better. The mission statement of the centre is ‘Open Doors To Music’. Since 2007 the award-winning centre has steadily built up a range of facilities, music development projects and a flagship youth outreach programme. The building houses a recording studio, a live venue, two rehearsal rooms, the Northern Ireland Music Exhibition and various training spaces. Oh Yeah is also home to twelve dynamic businesses. Key programmes at the centre include Scratch My Progress Talent Development, Women’s Work, Sound of Belfast Festival, The NI Music Prize and the Music & Older People programme.

Scratch My Progress 2020 acts announced

The Oh Yeah Music Centre is delighted to reveal that the five fresh new acts that have been selected for Scratch My Progress 2020 are; Gender Chores, Gilmore, Lemonade Shoelace, Riley Holland and Vivamagnolia.

Scratch My Progress is a mentoring, showcase and practical support programme for new music. The dedicated talent development programme, now in its 9th year is powered by the on-going support of PRSF and Help Musicians. Oh Yeah is also delighted to be working with YouTube Music, a partnership that will provide participating artists with a new level of support through a series of dedicated master classes and more.

Over the next 9-months the 5-acts will work with our dedicated Talent Development Coordinator to uncover opportunities for their music and take part in workshops, studio time, professional photo shoots, showcases, vocal coaching and more.

With the current situation surrounding the closure of live music and events in mind, there will also be increased support in developing digital skills in artist promotion, performance and development of online audiences.

Over the years our talent development artists have had one to one sessions with PRS, PPL, PRSF, Musicians Union, First Music Contact, Atlantic Records (Ed Sheerin, Charli XCX), Parlophone Records (Gorillaz), Domino Records (Anna Calvi, Arctic Monkeys), Jeff Robinson PR (The 1975, Belsonic),  Deezer, Ditto, Body & Soul Festival and many more. The Scratch My Progress scheme has mentored a diverse range of talent over the years including NI Music Prize Winners Kitt Philippa and Sister Ghost, music and media personalities Gemma Bradley & Emer Maguire and artists representing the rock, alternative, acoustic, rap, pop, punk and electronic genres. 

NI Music Prize – Long List

Presenting the LONG LIST – NI Music Prize 2020

The Long Lists for Best Album, Best Single, Oh Yeah Contender and Best Live have been announced.

An impressive 53 albums and 84 singles have made the long list. All were released between 15th July 2019 – 14th July 2020.

The shortlist will be announced in the coming days. The Best Single, Best Live and Oh Yeah Contender shortlists will then go to public vote.

For full details of the lists and more info go to –

Arts Council NI ARTIST/Freelancers Survey

In July 2020, the Department for Communities announced a £4 million lifeline for the arts sector in Northern Ireland. An additional £33 million has subsequently been allocated to the NI Executive through the UK Government’s £1.57 billion rescue package for the UK’s arts, culture and heritage sectors.

To help the Arts Council determine where financial support is most urgently required, they have developed a survey for individual artists, practitioners and creative freelancers to find out how Covid-19 has affected them.

The information gathered by this survey will inform ACNI about the impact of COVID-19 on Northern Ireland’s individual artists, practitioners and creative freelancers and will help them to determine where financial support is most urgently required.

Please complete and share with other artists – we feel it is very important that musicians, artists, freelancers get the support they need.

For more details and to complete the survey go HERE

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

Oh Yeah now recruiting for Scratch 2020 with support from YouTube Music

The Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast opens submissions for Scratch My Progress 2020 and announces talent development partnership with YouTube Music.The Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast is now seeking applications from emerging artists for its annual talent development programme Scratch My Progress. Since 2011, the scheme has worked with 35 emerging acts including Kitt Philippa, Careerist, Sister Ghost, Owen Denvir, Wynona Bleach, Gemma Bradley, Strange New Places, Reevah, Vokxen, Alice LA and Sasha Samara to name only a few. Taking the programme to the next level, artists will now also benefit from the involvement of a new partner – YouTube Music.  YouTube Music will be working closely with the artists to build their channel, develop a YouTube content strategy and most importantly, engage in a meaningful way with their audiences. 

Scratch My Progress is a mentoring, showcase and practical support programme for new music. Each year taking 4 acts with potential and supporting them in their development as they navigate their way through the music industry, while developing their sound, profile and skills. The programme also includes other elements of support which are open to artists not participating on the Scratch programme such as the ASK advice sessions, industry workshops, panels, master classes and conference events aimed at bringing musicians closer to the wider industry for advice, discussions and networking.

Over the years artists have had access and one a one to one meetings with visiting industry including PRS, PPL, PRS Foundation, Musicians Union, Help Musicians, First Music Contact and AIM as well as advice from Deezer, DITTO, Domino Records and Body & Soul Festival.  They have availed of guidance from Jeff Robinson PR, Joe Dougan (Shine/Belsonic), Phil Taggart (BBC Radio 1), Francesca O’Connor (Make Waves Management) and Fiona McAuley (YMU Group). Scratch alumni have also gone on to win awards at the NI Music Prize (Kitt Philippa and Sister Ghost) and others have been invited to showcase at The Great Escape, Ireland Music Week, Stendhal and Output Belfast. Many have gained significant radio play from BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio1, BBC Radio Ulster, 2FM, 98FM as well as being listed on various Spotify Playlists and influential Music Blogs.

The main Scratch programme will again offer a select number of acts the chance to showcase and promote their talent, develop their performance and writing skills and gain an in-depth understanding of the business of music. With the current situation surrounding the closure of live music and events in mind, there will also be increased support in developing digital skills in artist promotion, performance and development of online audiences. The scheme is open to applications from artist’s aged 16+ that have been steadily building a profile and feel ready to commit to a more structured programme of support.

Once recruited, the successful Scratch applicants will spend the next nine months in meetings and workshops with music industry professionals, including lawyers and accountants, vocal coaches, PR experts, as well as participating in YouTube Music master classes, streamed performances and more. The team will be encouraged to share ideas in interactive songwriter sessions and receive mentoring in everything from finances and marketing to interview skills and stage management. They will write and record a track professionally for a showcase EP and organise a showcase event at the end of the programme.

Oh Yeah is also delighted to have the continued support of the PRS Foundation as part of the UK network of talent development partners and an additional year of support from the Help Musicians.

Charlotte Dryden of Oh Yeah said:

 “2020 has been an incredibly challenging year for artists and that is why as we emerge from this pandemic, supporting emerging talent is going to be more important than ever. While live music is still very uncertain, there’s no evidence that music creation has slowed down. Artists have carried on creating exciting new work and we are committed to providing opportunities for new talent to realise potential, build profile and raise confidence. We are really grateful for the on-going support of PRSF and Help Musicians and we are delighted to have YouTube Music on board now too. The opportunity to really tap into the potential of digital platforms and content creation for new artists is very exciting and we can’t wait to see who we will be working with this year.”

Dan Chalmers, Head of Music, EMEA, YouTube Music said…..

We’re so glad to be working with the Oh Yeah centre on Scratch My Progress to help young artists in Northern Ireland develop their talent. Some of the UK’s most iconic music and artists have come from Northern Ireland, and we’re committed to helping the next generation of artists showcase their music to the world.” 

Becci Scotcher, Senior Grants and Programmes Manager at PRS Foundation said…

“Working to support the talent development pipeline is more crucial now, than ever and the Oh Yeah Music centre is a key hub for talent development in Northern Ireland. We’re delighted to be supporting another year of Scratch My Progress and I can’t wait to see what the 2020 alumni achieve!” 

Lucy Bampton, Head of Creative Programme at Help Musician’s said…

“Help Musicians is delighted to support the Scratch My Progress programme for another year. As a charity that supports musicians across their creative output, health & wellbeing and business skills, we understand the importance of an opportunity such as this for emerging musicians, and the role it can play in shaping their future career. We hope that our support for the programme will enable the Oh Yeah Music Centre, and the artists it works with to manage the challenges and opportunities ahead, and to continue the rich musical heritage of Northern Ireland.”

For more info and to apply to Scratch click HERE

Arts Council Impact Survey –

This short survey is designed to collect information about the financial and human impacts that the spread of the coronavirus has had on artists and arts organisations in Northern Ireland.

ACNI have pledged to work closely with colleagues in Government to share the impacts arising and make the case for additional resources to help mitigate against the short, medium and long term effects of this situation.

To help them understand, in more detail, the impact on individual artists and organisations, the Arts Council has prepared the following survey which will remain open indefinitely.

Oh Yeah is 13!

To mark our 13th birthday we will be sharing 13 photos a day for the next 13 days. Starting with 2007.

Share your Oh Yeah photos and memories with us on our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!

Recognise anyone?

Today is our 13th birthday. Back in 2007 on 5th May we threw open the doors for our official opening. Of course there was a lot of hard work getting to that point and we hadn’t even signed the lease yet, but we were excited and surrounded by good people, by an extended rock and roll family. The sense of mission was powerful and the community help was hugely up-lifting. 

We needed every bit of that juice in 2008 when the recession crashed in. We bounced from success to pending catastrophe. Always there was some extra, emotional reserve or a new friend, arriving with a smile and a genius fix. And then everyone was rewarded with amazing music, with talent on the rise and good people blooming with potential. Oh Yeah has surpassed all of those early dreams. 

Now on 5th May 2020 on our 13th birthday, we never imagined we would have to close because of a pandemic and it has been hard. The venue is dark and lifeless, the lights have been switched off and we miss our colleagues and friends. 

The arts in general have suffered a lot over the years, but there’s been no shortage of inspiration, creativity, activism and resilience. We are in awe of that and we hope that the powerful contribution that artists, venues and the arts make to society will be adequately supported as we come out of this crisis. 

We are thankful to our supporters, funders, sponsors, volunteers, staff and board and while things are uncertain, we are determined to get through this. 

Oh Yeah is already adapting, we are working on alternative ways to engage and do good through music and we are staying positive. 

So until we can open the doors again, we send you our best wishes and hope that you are doing ok. We send key workers, the NHS and all those working on the frontline our deepest thanks. Stay safe everyone. Here’s to seeing in our 14th birthday in 2021 with a big old fashioned party.

We thought we would share this footage of our Open Day in 2007

Were you there? Let us know.

Oh Yeah joins Music Venue Trust #SaveOurVenues campaign

The Oh Yeah Music Centre is part of a national initiative launched by Music Venue Trust to prevent the closure of hundreds of independent music venues. 

Oh Yeah is Belfast’s dedicated music hub – a resource for music makers, fans, audiences, community and the business of music. It was constituted in 2007 in the belief that music is a valuable agent in Northern Ireland, a catalyst that changes lives for the better.

We are a not for profit and charitable organisation and we also rely on income we generate through the venue, box office, bar and room hire. 

Our venue is the beating heart of the centre and it is now closed. 

With your help donations will be used to support our plans to invest in alternative ways to support local music until the venue can open again.

Grassroots venues are the incubators of new talent, they breathe life into our towns and cities and we are proud to stand alongside this amazing community.

If we hit our target everything above the amount we need will be donated to the Music Venue Trust GMV Crisis Fund to protect other venues just like ours across the campaign.

For more info or to donate go to –