Season’s Greetings and End of Year Reflection from Oh Yeah Music Centre

Dear friends of Oh Yeah, we would like to wish you a very happy, restful, safe and healthy Christmas. Thank you for your support in 2021, from online engagement and participation through to coming out to gigs when we returned to live music and events. Your donations, purchases and messages of support have been so encouraging and it has meant a lot to the team here at Oh Yeah. 

This year all our lives were still dominated by the challenges and uncertainty of Covid. It has been so difficult to see the music sector and our community so badly affected by the pandemic, but we were also immensely proud of the work and achievements of our musicians. From Mercury (Hannah Peel), Brit Award (Bicep) and Ivor Novello (Conor Mitchell) nominations through to the NI Music Prize, including a first all female line up of winners in the history of the awards, with Saint Sister and Dea Matrona leading the charge. We also finally got to present Mike Edgar with the Outstanding Contribution to Music award. 

In November after over two years of hard work from Belfast City Council and the City of Music Steering group there was the proudest of moments when Belfast was officially named a UNESCO City of Music. We are excited about the opportunities this can bring and we are looking forward to supporting the next steps. Belfast City Council has stepped up for culture in the city and we are grateful for this commitment. 

We want to pay tribute to all the musicians who have worked tirelessly for others. Even in a year when things have been toughest, artists have continued to donate proceeds of their music to charities they support. There is no more generous group of people. We also want to pay tribute to the late Steve Strange, a champion for NI music, friend, and giant of the music industry, who we sadly lost in September.

In 2021 Oh Yeah continued to adapt to new ways of working, from a blended approach to the joy of returning to being in the room together. We worked with hundreds of highly talented creative people, from musicians to producers, engineers, crew, production, mentors, tutors, facilitators, graphic designers, freelancers and more. They helped us achieve and deliver great work, from the Virtual Tour of NI to Women’s Work, to the NI Music Prize, Sound of Belfast, Mothers In Music, Volume Control, ASK mentoring, youth outreach and arts and older people.

We commissioned two songs about Belfast for Sound of Belfast written by Gareth Dunlop and Jealous Of The Birds, and we even welcomed a new staff member Matt McGinn to the outreach team. The Oh Yeah venue has never looked or sounded better and we will continue to improve the facilities over the coming years. In short, we continued to engage with all ages, aspirations and levels, through music throughout the year.

Music creators keep on doing great things and here at Oh Yeah, we are more committed than ever to keep the doors open to music, to developing talent, to supporting and celebrating creativity. The challenge for 2022 is to retain and keep hold of the world-class talent that we have, to ensure we facilitate and support that talent and lead the way in making our cities and towns musicians and artist friendly spaces to create, build audiences and of course make a living. Musicians are innovative and resilient, the arts sector is innovative and resilient, but it has been chronically under-funded for far too long and we must make things better, for the benefit of all.

But there have also been very supportive funders and sponsors who without, we would have had to close the doors and so we want to thank them and acknowledge that support. To the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Google/YouTube, Education Authority, Department for Communities, Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland Screen, PPL, PRS Foundation, PRS for Music, Help Musicians, Spirit of 2012. Thanks also to Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon for the donation of the ‘Happy Christmas (War is Over)’ rare acetate, we hope to auction it very soon! Thanks also to Gary Lightbody for all that you do for music in NI.

Big love to all the hard working creatives based in Oh Yeah – we have the best bunch of tenants. Final thanks goes the Oh Yeah staff and volunteers and to our new Chair Paul Evans, Vice Chair Lynne Best and all the Oh Yeah board. The commitment and support has been above and beyond. 

Happy Christmas everyone, please stay healthy, be happy and let’s move into 2022 with a renewed confidence.

From Charlotte, Dee, Caoimhe, Charlene, Lisa, Matt, Paul, Ryan, Seán and Sian!

Oh Yeah – 2021 On Screen…

Check out all the great projects from 2021 on YouTube… click here and don’t forget to subscribe for future updates!