Wigan man who founded music project in libraries is named in Queen's New Year Honours list

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A Wigan man who created a music project which sees acts perform live in libraries has been recognised by the Queen.

Stewart Parsons was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s New Year Honours list for services to music and libraries.

The 55-year-old is the director of Get It Loud In Libraries, which started 16 years ago as a small project at Lancaster Library.

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Stewart ParsonsStewart Parsons
Stewart Parsons

He worked as an arts development officer for Lancashire County Council and launched what was initially a three-year pilot project to breathe new life into the library.

When the council cut its funding, Stewart took over the project himself and has led its growth.

Over the years top acts have performed high quality gigs in libraries around the UK, featuring breakthrough and established artists, including Adele, Jessie J, Florence Welch, Kate Tempest, Meilyr Jones and many more.

It was a gig by Sheffield band The Long Blondes that really put Get It Loud on the map.

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They were the indie music press’ darlings at the time and attracted a new wave of young users to the library. Going beyond the usual toddler groups and silver surfer clubs, the gig provided an opportunity for teenagers and young people to enjoy a space they had perhaps not visited for a while.

The project has provided many opportunities for people to experience music in libraries and discover what else they have to offer.

Stewart introduced matinee gigs for families, allowing younger people to enjoy the acts too.

Stewart picked up a prestigious Local Legend Award in 2019 as part of the 25th Birthday National Lottery Awards and was recognised by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as a library innovator and for sharing his experience and enthusiasm internationally.

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Get It Loud In Libraries is keen to offer live opportunities for women in music, either solo artists or female-fronted bands, to help close the gender gap in the music industry.

It also teams female volunteers with the professional crew to advocate for women in the technical support side of the music and creative industries.

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