Northern Ireland

Outdoor concert promoters to pay into ‘social fund’ for impacted residents in new council plan

A new fund scheme has been agreed ahead of a summer of huge gigs to be attended by thousands of fans

The Emerge Music Festival returns to Belfast this weekend
Belfast is set for a summer of outdoor gigs.

Promoters of major outdoor concerts in Belfast will contribute to a new fund aimed at benefiting communities impacted by living close to venues under new plans

Belfast City Council’s People and Communities Committee passed a motion to create a social fund to assist those inconvenienced by crowds and noise disruption during concerts at venues including Boucher Road playing fields and Ormeau Park.

The fund will come from a “social value fee” paid to the council by gig promoters.

News of the fund comes ahead of a series of huge concerts in Belfast, including next week’s Bruce Springsteen gig at Boucher Road.

The same venue will host former Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher in July, and the two-day dance music festival Emerge in August.

The fund follows consultation with residents in affected areas, and further consultation will take place with communities on what the fund will go towards.

Suggested ideas are said to include community fun-days and other activity projects for young people.

Balmoral Sinn Féin councillor Geraldine McAteer said after Thursday’s committee meeting the fund would be aimed at “people, communities and businesses who are disrupted and inconvenienced by some major concerts in Belfast parks and open spaces”.

“It is fantastic that Belfast is now firmly on the map as a key destination for world class artists,” she said.

“It is also a huge logistical challenge for concert organisers and we can’t escape the fact that many local residents who live close to Boucher Playing Fields will struggle with the disruption to their daily lives before, during and after concerts. Roads will be closed, metal fences will be put up and thousands of concert-goers will pass by their doors.”

She said that in some cases, residents saw some attending the concerts using their gardens as toilets and as a dumping ground for rubbish.

“I am therefore delighted that concert promoters are ‘giving back’ to residents through paying a levy to this social fund and that council is now making this fund available to communities,” Ms McAteer added.