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.