Manchester Music City, the host partner for this year's WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), has today (23 May 2024) announced further details of its legacy programme, WE, THE LEADERSwhich will include showcases, leadership training, commissions, industry roundtables, TED-style leadership lectures, a supplementary schools programme for Manchester's young diaspora communities, and a youth-led music conference for 16-30's.

Produced by Brighter Sound, WE, THE LEADERS will run alongside the main WOMEX 24 schedule with a focus on supporting and championing the new and emerging trailblazers in the music industry – both in Manchester and across the UK & Ireland.

With its overarching theme of 'New Voices, New Work, Next Steps', the programme will animate the city during WOMEX 24 and ensure a long-lasting impact beyond the event,  benefiting thousands of young people, music creators and professionals, with a focus on supporting those who are currently underrepresented within the music industry.

With support from Arts Council England, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and British Council, WE, THE LEADERS has 3 phases of delivery; a pre-WOMEX programme running until October 2024, activity in and around WOMEX itself (23-27 October), and a post-WOMEX programme running through to 2025.


The following opportunities are now live on Brighter Sound's website:

  • Global Music Leaders in partnership with British Council - an ambitious leadership programme that will upskill, profile and connect a cohort of emerging industry leaders and change makers from the UK & Ireland with their international peers
  • Creative Commissions - for Greater Manchester artists and collectives to produce new work that examines or challenges the future of the music industry
  • Young Producers Training - which will culminate in a youth-led music conference for 16-30's in partnership with Young Manchester and supported by Contact


In addition, an open call for artists and bands from Greater Manchester to showcase their music at the prestigious opening event of WOMEX 24 at Bridgewater Hall on 23 October is now live on Manchester Music City's website.

WOMEX 24 will take place in Manchester between 23-27 October with 2,600 of the world's music industry from 90 different countries expected to attend. The five-day event is being produced by Manchester Music City partner, English Folk Expo. Manchester Central will host the main daytime conference and trade fair, with live music showcases, club nights and films at Albert Hall, Aviva Studios, Manchester Central, O2 Ritz and HOME.

Black Lives In Music and Attitude is Everything have been added to the list of collaborators and will be working closely with Manchester Music City, Brighter Sound and English Folk Expo to ensure the programme and wider event is accessible and inclusive. This includes resources for people attending WOMEX for the first time.

For the latest news about WOMEX 24 and the legacy programme, visit Manchester Music City's website where you can sign up to their mailing list, or follow on Instagram.



Kate Lowes, Director, Brighter Sound said:
"Hosting the biggest conference of the global music scene in Manchester is an incredible opportunity for our city region and the UK & Ireland more broadly. However we know the industry can be a tough place, particularly for those from marginalised and underrepresented groups. Working closely with our amazing partners and with thanks to our supporters, we will work to ensure a broad range of people at different stages of their music career can make the most of this major event coming to the city, and that the legacy of WOMEX 24 is felt for years to come."

Councillor Bev Craig, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:
"Manchester is known the world over as a city of music with a musical heritage that spans home-grown talent, chart-topping innovation and classical creativity. Supporting new and emerging music creators and industry professionals is vital to ensuring our thriving and diverse music scene continues to flourish and this is what makes the WE, THE LEADERS legacy programme so important. We've long recognised the powerful role music and culture play in regeneration, creating jobs and other opportunities and we're determined to do everything we can to support the sector."

Jen Cleary, Director North and Combined Arts, Arts Council England said:
"We're thrilled that Manchester will host the 30th edition of WOMEX, creating a spectacular opportunity for the music industry to gather and connect here in the UK. Our investment in the Expo and in the substantial legacy programme builds on our work with the Horizons partnership over the past 11 years, and offers a fantastic opportunity for established and emerging artists and promoters from the UK & Ireland, whose work focuses on the rich tapestry of global musical traditions. This programme of work will enable them to extend their connections and develop new partnerships, models and ideas for the future. We look forward to welcoming many new voices to WOMEX and to Manchester this October."

Alexander Walter, Director, WOMEX said:
"WOMEX is about putting a spotlight on emerging and should-be-seen artists on stage, and has always embraced young and upcoming professionals attending and participating in the event. We are super happy that the WE, THE LEADERS legacy programme is launched, and to join with Manchester Music City on this - it is a perfect match with the mission of WOMEX and gives visibility and support to the creative people who will become the dynamic vitamins in our ecosystem."

DCMS Creative Industries Minister Julia Lopez said:
"As the biggest global music conference, it says so much about the brilliance of Britain's music sector that this year's WOMEX is being held in the UK - and in a city like Manchester with such a rich musical history. By championing emerging artists and providing a space for businesses to network and form new partnerships, WOMEX 24 will help us deliver our plans to grow the creative industries by £50 billion by 2030, which is why we as a government are backing the event."

Roger Wilson, Co-Founder, Black Lives in Music said:
"Black Lives in Music is proud to be a delivery partner for WOMEX 24. This event is one of the annual highlights of the global music calendar, and we're both honoured and excited to be involved this time in Manchester. We believe music is for everyone, everywhere. WOMEX is about one big community, enjoying great music together. In collaboration with our partners, we will bring our expertise and endeavour to help make sure that WOMEX 24 is truly for everyone. We're looking forward to being part of one of the biggest and best iterations of this amazing event."

Paul Hawkins, Head of Skills Development, Attitude is Everything said:
"We are thrilled to be collaborating with Manchester Music City for WOMEX 24. Conferences and Expos are a vital way for audiences, artists and professionals to learn about and connect with the music and live events industry and it is vital that disabled people can access them. We're pleased by Manchester Music City's ambition to make this October's Expo the most accessible WOMEX to date and are excited to support them to achieve this ambition."

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