‘Live Music Is A Key Pillar Of Glasgow’s Plan’: Q’s With Glasgow Life’s Susan Deighan

Susan Deighan Chief Executive Glasgow Life
Susan Deighan, chief executive of Glasgow Life.

Glasgow Life is one of Scotland’s largest charities. It delivers cultural, sporting and learning activities on behalf of Glasgow City Council, with the aim of making a positive impact on individuals, the communities in which they live and the city as a whole.

For this week’s Glasgow Focus, Pollstar reached out to Glasgow Life chief executive Susan Deighan to find our what makes this city such a much-love destination to experience live entertainment in all its facets.

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Pollstar: Please describe the purpose of Glasgow Life in your own words
Susan Deighan: As one of Scotland’s largest charities, Glasgow Life is committed to improving the lives of the people of Glasgow and visitors to our city. We believe everyone deserves a great Glasgow life and we find innovative ways to make this happen across Glasgow’s diverse communities.

Our programs, experiences and events, many of which are free, range from grassroots community activities to large-scale cultural, artistic, and sporting events which present Glasgow globally. Our work is designed to promote inclusion, happiness, and health, as well as support the city’s visitor economy, to enhance Glasgow’s mental, physical, and economic wellbeing.

In your mission to inspire the city’s citizens and visitors, how important a role does live entertainment play?
As the UK’s first, and Scotland’s only, UNESCO City of Music, Glasgow lives and breathes music all year round. We’re genuinely a hotbed of musical creativity across every genre, and we’ve produced some of the biggest and best known bands and artists in the world over the years.

The opportunity to enjoy music in the city any night of the week and to attend music events, from intimate folk sessions to sell-out stadium tours and major festivals, is hugely important to the people of Glasgow and it’s a real draw for visitors and tourists. Glasgow hosts over 130 gigs every week, more than in any other UK city outside of London, and we’re fiercely proud that we’ve built a reputation for providing one of the world’s most immersive live music experiences.

Fans in front of the main stage of TRNSMT Festival.

Scottish fans, including those in Glasgow, enjoy a reputation worldwide of being the best fans, in terms of energy felt by performers on stage. Why do you think that is?
I think they go hand-in-hand. Artists and promoters recognize Glasgow is a must-play destination, because our music audiences are amongst the most passionate, enthusiastic and welcoming fans you’ll find anywhere.

We’re also home to some truly iconic venues of all sizes, from our incredible OVO Hydro to the likes of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, King Tut’s, The Barrowlands or the O2 Academy. Earlier this year, the readers of Time Out magazine voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city for a second time, so it’s no surprise that the biggest performers and visiting gig-goers enjoy coming here.

How important is tourism in your overall equation, and do you have numbers that show how much tourism live events generate, plus income for ancillary businesses?
Live music is a key pillar of Glasgow’s Tourism and Visitor Plan to 2023. We recognize the significant contribution of music festivals and events to our tourism economy and visitors regularly cite music as a reason for coming to the city.

The UK Live Music Census 2017 named Glasgow as the third strongest performing music tourism city in the UK, behind London and Manchester, contributing nearly £160 million ($177 million) to the UK’s live music economy annually. Pre-Covid, music was generating an estimated £75 million ($83 million) for Glasgow’s economy each year and almost half (circa 500,000) of all music tourists to Scotland were attending performances in Glasgow.

Supporting the growth of Glasgow’s music and night-time industries is really important for the city, not just for our visitor economy but to help protect and create jobs across these industries, their supply chains and more widely across our tourism and hospitality sector.

Scottish fans, not just in music, enjoy a reputation around the world of being the most enthusiastic, but also friendly, supporters.

What makes Glasgow unique in your eyes, and why should everybody visit if they get a chance?
Glasgow is Scotland’s cultural powerhouse. As well as being a UNESCO City of Music, we are also one of the world’s top five sporting cities. We’re home to world-class museums, galleries and attractions; a rich architectural heritage and a thriving and diverse food and drink scene.

Glasgow’s outstanding program of events and festivals is recognized globally and the city is a first-choice destination for more than two million tourists every year; we are the Gateway to Scotland. Undeniably, at the heart of the city’s success are our people. Glaswegians are renowned the world over for their friendliness, kindness, warm welcome and good humor – attributes perfectly encapsulated by our award-winning city brand, People Make Glasgow. From music, sport, food and festivals to the unique character of our people, Glasgow is a vibrant, culturally-rich city with an unrivaled visitor experience and world-class customer service.

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