The first round of Youth Music’s Incubator Fund grants has been revealed and 31 creative organisations will receive up to £30,000 to help tackle inequality in the music industry.
The UK Charity, which invests in music-making projects supporting more than 80,000 children and young people, has set aside a fund of £2 million over the next two years to help organisations that open up access to sustainable music careers for people aged between 18 and 25. The money is particularly targeted at projects that help underrepresented groups.
Among the recipients of the first tranche of funding is No Signal, the breakout Black radio station that has attracted a global audience during the pandemic lockdown. The station is launching a three-month industry training programme for young people using a grant from Youth Music.
Ezra Collective, the London-based jazz group is also using its grant to help train Black women in support roles in music such as sound engineering and management. Bristol’s Noods Radio is using its grant to support its newly-launched Test Pressings project to put young people at the forefront of its record label.
The decision as to who received the Incubator Fund grants were made, in part by a panel of 18-25-year-olds, commissioned by Youth Music. The fund follows the important research Youth Music published in its ‘A Blueprint for the Future’ report in July this year. The research revealed that there were still substantial barriers to young people based on gender, physical ability, race and economic status. With so many organisations having to rethink their roles during the pandemic, Youth Music was overwhelmed by applications.
Matt Griffiths, Youth Music’s CEO, said, ‘The organisations we’re funding are trailblazers in their own fields. They recognise the huge creative and commercial opportunities to be gained from nurturing the diverse talent that our music industry needs.
The funding is particularly aimed at micro-businesses and Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) offering innovative ideas to incubate new and diverse talent. Griffiths was encouraged to see people who had benefitted from Youth Music’s work giving back to the industry.
‘What’s particularly special with our Incubator Fund is seeing individuals who kicked off their careers at Youth Music funded organisations (including Reprezent Radio and Tomorrow’s Warriors) now spearheading the changemaking projects that we’re funding,’ Griffiths said, ‘That’s the long-term impact of investing in grassroots music.’
Ezra Collective is one-such organisation. Femi Koleoso, the group’s drummer and bandleader, says that while Covid cancelled their planned world tour, the grant will help the group focus on important projects closer to home.
‘Mentoring, community and role models are at the core of Ezra Collective with all of us growing through Tomorrow’s Warriors who provided that for us and instilled those values in us,’ he says. ‘The plan is simple, ‘each one teaches one’, and we’re channelling this through each member of the team training and mentoring young, black women in behind the scenes music roles across live sound, tour management and management with the ambition of supporting them into paid roles across the industry. Providing a safe place to make mistakes, resulting in a community which doesn’t just provide experience, but work too.’
The Incubator Fund opens for the second round of applications in December until 5 February 2021 and is open to people in England, Scotland and Wales through the support of players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Youth Music has created a blogpost on making a strong application.
Full list of Youth Music’s Incubator Fund recipients, Round 1
Nottingham Community Artist Network (East Midlands)
Swell Music (East of England)
Girls I Rate (London)
Young Guns Network (London)
Roadworks & Spiral Skills (London)
Ezra Collective (London)
Link Up TV (London)
The Crib & AEI (London)
No Signal (London)
Tees Music Alliance (North East)
Generator (North East)
Kaleido Music UK (North East)
Thirty Pound Gentleman (North West)
Reform Radio (North West)
Sound City (Liverpool) (North West)
Creative Crieff (Scotland)
QM Records (South East)
Palm Bay Music (South East)
Platform B (South East)
Saffron Records (South West)
The Music Works (South West)
Black Acre Records (South West)
Noods Radio (South West)
Forté Project (Wales)
Swansea Music Art Digital (Wales)
National Youth Arts Wales (Wales)
Dontfret Media (West Midlands)
Cafe INDIEpendent (Yorkshire & The Humber)
Beats Bus Records (Yorkshire & The Humber)
Young Thugs (Yorkshire & The Humber)
Sable Radio (Yorkshire & The Humber)