I was asked to do a wee interview with local music student and musician Connor Adam.
Usually it’s myself asking the questions locally so it’s nice to be on the other side for a wee change.
- What is your current involvement within music?
I am an Ayr based musician, event organiser and local journalist.
- What is you involvement within the Local Music scene compared to that of the rest of Scotland / UK and to what industry level do you feel like you work at eg professional / pt / hobbyist
I would imagine that I probably ‘wear more hats’ than other local creative’s but I respect that lots of people have many different interests in music and in their local community. I work at local, national and international levels. Professional
- What resources do you use within the area? Rehearsal rooms? Performance spaces?
I do not use any rehearsal spaces within the local area however there are some fine rehearsal spaces at Sound Magic Studio‘s just on Waggon Road. They put on regular gig nights there too and although I can’t always get along due to commitments they have a lot of great things going on including a community club there for musicians with benefits such as cheaper recording and rehearsal rates, check them out, highly recommended.
- Do you see a local music scene as self-sustainable?
Ayr and the surrounding area has a lot of talented bands and musicians living within it. It’s always been a creative place and I’m sure that will continue for a long time however I do feel that more could be done to really harness that creative spirit and to properly incubate the enormous talent we have that might be outside of the education system currently.
- Do you think the scene is established enough to attract touring acts?
If acts were booked, events were marketed properly and the acts performing had a market here then I see no reason why it shouldn’t work.
A number of organisations do bring touring orchestras to perform in Ayr however certainly when it comes to more contemporary groups I think we could be doing far more to attract touring bands.
In my opinion Ayr is sorely lacking a number of things which would significantly help in the development of our local music culture and community particularly in developing a real sense of scene here.
To me it’s all about raising aspirations, raising confidence and raising expectations.
In my opinion we need to really encourage local arts organisations such as The Gaiety to take more of an interest in the local live music scene and in promoting original music.
The majority of the music programming at the Gaiety Theatre, from what I have observed, is all about cover bands and tribute acts, which of course have their place. However I think we need to invest in our local music culture and community. We need to encourage and promote a sense of value in original music locally.
It would appear to me that The Gaiety receives a rather sizeable amount of funding locally and from this it would appear to me it invests very little in the local music community or in promoting original music shows. I’m quite happy to be presented with evidence to the contrary.
I look at other local authorities such as North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire who really seem to ‘get it’ far better than here. They invest in touring acts who attract audiences, who pay tickets, who justify the hall hire and bring in money to the local economy. I must say if I’m being honest I was really shocked and surprised at South Ayrshire Council’s decision a few years ago to effectively hand over the management and booking of several public buildings including Ayr Town Hall and the Citadel. I’ve not been hugely impressed by the level of shows being promoted or their originality. I think we need to really need to actively invest in local original live music communities. To inspire our young people. I’m not sure of the exact figures but you’ll find millions of pounds has made its way to the Gaiety from the Big Lottery Fund, Creative Scotland and South Ayrshire Council. I just wish more of it had been on quality original live music programming.
I believe we also have to we have to influence change also within South Ayrshire Council, to encourage investment in developing music communities locally.
Why we do not have a music hub is way beyond me. Where is the investment in local live music? Certainly it’s piecemeal at best although in recent times I have seen change.
I hope to see more accountability, more transparency and more ambition shown all round in addition to more inclusive attitudes.
What I would say is that Ayr, South Ayrshire does have utterly fantastically talented young musicians. There are some truly excellent bands formed from the South Ayrshire Junior Orchestra, Senior Orchestra and String Orchestra are all fantastic. I’ve seen initiatives such as the New Music Collective, run by musician and teacher Paul Henderson and taking place at Belmont Academy. That’s orchestrated by the South Ayrshire Instrument Service which itself is an arm of South Ayrshire Council. I can only say positive things about them as they are hardworking and get the best of the kids they work with. Each of their orchestras are well drilled, talented and hardworking and truly they deserve not only your support but of course your ears.
- How much influence do you feel the educational institutes have on the local scene?
Not enough. Ayrshire College and UWS both in my opinion have to play a far wider reaching role in the local community than they do. I’ve lived in Ayr the majority of my life and I’ve been a music student at both Ayrshire College and UWS and I’m fairly aware of how things are in the local community, in my role as a musician, local journalist and community councillor. Both Ayrshire College and UWS need to take far greater efforts to integrate themselves into the local music community. There is at present a significant opportunity for both institutions to contribute on a far deeper basis than is presently happening. It appears that both institutions should be working closer with colleagues at SAC’s Cultural Development Teams, local arts organisations such as the South Ayrshire Arts Partnership and there should be a regular presence of students working at / contributing to the development, delivery and success of local events within the community. Why are there no formalised programme to involve event management or music sound tech students in the Burns An’ A ‘That Festival for instance? Couldn’t some of the cost also be offset by bringing in new talent both production and performance wise? Certainly it would seem opportune for both Ayrshire College and UWS to be developing these working links with South Ayrshire Council.
Of course the students, the lifeblood of the college and university are seen all over the town however I feel that there has to be a more significant and sustained effort to assist in formally creating opportunities for them to work locally in the creative industries. I would have to say Ayrshire College, UWS and South Ayrshire Council, please, get your act together.
- What do you feel would be needed to improve the local music scene?
More integration in the local community of the college and the University.
A proper, fit for purpose live music venue would be a fine start. If it’s the case as appears to be that the Gaiety for instance has no real interest in local live music then certainly it would appear to me that the case for a dedicated venue for live music would be very strong and purposeful.
I have a venue in mind. I’m keen to head up the running of it. That space is the Darlington Church in Ayr. It used to be the Borderline Theatre but has been empty for many years now. I have spoken with South Ayrshire Council and have made my intentions known as regards taking ownership of the building and that’s something I’m currently developing. As things stand I’ve had word from Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian who told me that he would do his best to bring the band to play should I be successful in my bid to open the Darlington as a live music venue. I’ve also had a message of support from Mike Scott of The Waterboys fame, himself an ex Ayr Academy pupil who has went on to achieve huge international success for his music. I’m confident that if I can land the Darlington that I can help to kick-start something of a revolution in local live music , in developing our local live music communities, providing a professional facility for original live music groups, being a base or hub for the local live music community, providing a space for workshops and educational classes, providing local industry learning opportunities for Ayrshire College and UWS students and of course in providing that fit for purpose live music venue that touring acts can use. It really could be, should be and will be I hope, the way forwards for us. I’m certainly grateful for the support of anyone who would like to see this happen. I’ve lived in Ayr for 25 years and I’m keen to see this happen and I feel that I’m in a unique opportunity to help to make it happen. We all are.
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- Of what standard do you think the performance spaces are at within Ayr and how do you think they could be improved?
Ayr has plenty pubs and coffee shops that are and have been used for live music performances and there’s some nice enough wee spots to catch a band or acoustic act but for me what I want to see is a live music venue in Ayr.