How Yorkshire has inspired wealth of musical talent

THERE ARE music fans from all corners of the globe who long to live like Common People, or discover the corner of the North which inspired The Beautiful South.

Friday, 2nd May 2014, 6:03 am
Jarvis Cocker of Pulp on stage at the 2011 Leeds Festival
Jarvis Cocker of Pulp on stage at the 2011 Leeds Festival

But when it comes to catering for pop pilgrimages, it seems that Yorkshire could be missing out on millions of pounds worth of tourism from the world of music heritage.

Imagine, a new report from the campaign group UK Music, has uncovered the “unrealised potential” in luring followers of its homegrown musical heroes.

Yorkshire has been cited as an example of a region where more could be done to capitalise on the millions of people who travel to Britain to take tours and visit the birthplaces of their favourite bands every year.

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Authors say cities with big pop credentials such as Sheffield, which spawned Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, should look to emulate the success of Liverpool in The Beatle Story and tours, which generate £70m for the local economy every year.

Jo Dipple, the chief executive of UK Music, said: “Music tourism is big business. Liverpool has harnessed the potential of its musical heroes and is seeing huge economic and cultural benefits - but the story shouldn’t end there.

“British bands from every decade have immortalised their surroundings; cementing local areas into lyrical history and putting hometowns on the map. Cities have strong music history and should create a new economy by exploiting their own.”

Research from UK Music found that in 2012 music tourism generated £143m in the Yorkshire and the Humber region, supporting 1,660 jobs.

The Imagine report suggests the UK stands to bring in a further £4bn every year if every city followed a similar model to Liverpool.

Campaigners held up the Ziggy Stardust exhibition held in Hull last year as a success story.

Inspired by the local link with icon David Bowie’s backing band the Spiders from Mars, curators held a temporary celebration of the singer’s best-loved on-stage persona at the Museum of Club Culture.

The music heritage of the city, also the birth place of The Housemartins, will play a part in its City of Culture programme in 2017.

The MP for West Hull and Hessle, Alan Johnson, said: “Hull’s music heritage is rich and UK Music has shown how such heritage can drive tourism.”

Not all attempts to celebrate the region’s hit-makers have been successful, however.

Sheffield’s National Centre for Popular Music opened in a blaze of publicity at the turn of the Millennium but it was forced to close after less than a year in 2000 due to low visitor numbers. The stainless steel building, now home to Sheffield Hallam University Students’ Union, was criticised for wasting £11m of taxpayers’ cash.

It is hoped the report’s fresh set of recommendations for improving the industry, will encourage the government and local decision-makers to put the UK on the music tourism map.

The Minister for Culture, Ed Vaizey, said: “It is very clear that when combined, the music and tourism industries are powerful drivers for growth.”

• FROM the red-light district of Sheffield to the windy moors of Wuthering Heights fame - the varied landscapes of Yorkshire are etched in Britain’s music history.

Sheffield’s Jarvis Cocker, frontman of Pulp and radio host, drew much of inspiration from growing up in the Steel City. In 2011, he explored the musical landscape of his birthplace for a BBC Radio 6 documentary.

The Housemartins paid tribute to the city which brought them together on the title of their debut album London 0 Hull 4.

When Hull won the City of Culture 2017 bid last year, Prime Minister David Cameron cited the recording and professed to be fan of the band.

He was later mocked by frontman Paul Heaton.

The hits of BRIT Award winners and global superstars Arctic Monkeys are littered with references to their home city of Sheffield. Their second single When the Sun Goes Down paints a grim picture of prostitution in the Neepsend area of the city.