The BRIT Trust has reached a landmark in its charitable donations to support young people with opportunities in the music and creative industries. The BRIT Awards’ charity set up by the BPI has now given out £20 million to worthy causes since it was set up in 1989.
The biggest beneficiaries are The BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in Croydon and Nordoff Robbins, the music therapy charity. Other charities to receive BRIT Trust funding include War Child, Save The Children, Chicken Shed, The Prince’s Trust, Key4Life, Drugscope, and addictions and mental health charity Music Support (of which Robbie Williams is the patron).
The BRIT School was set up in 1991 as a joint venture between the music industry and government. The school, which was recently visited by Music Week cover star Sony Music CEO Rob Stringer, who picks up the Music Industry Trusts Award tonight (with the event raising funds for the BRIT Trust and Nordoff Robbins) has seen more than 7,000 students pass through its doors. Artist alumni include Adele, Katie Melua, Amy Winehouse and Leona Lewis, as well as this year’s Hyundai Mercury Prize nominees Loyle Carner and Kate Tempest. The BRIT School recently celebrated 125 million album sales by its former pupils.
The BRIT Trust has also helped support other educational establishments including Birmingham Ormiston Academy and the recently launched East London Arts and Music (ELAM) academy in Bromley-by-Bow. Last month the BPI launched its new BRITs Apprentice Scheme with 10 places funded in large part through The BRIT Trust.
The BRIT School was made possible by proceeds from the Knebworth concert in 1990 which featured Eric Clapton, Genesis, Elton John, Paul McCartney, Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, Pink Floyd, Cliff Richard, as well as continuing donations from the annual BRIT Awards ceremony.
Education for children and their better understanding of music is a necessity
Chairman of The BRIT Trust, John Craig, said: “At the Trust we recognise how important it is to provide opportunities for young people to express their creativity, often through music. More than ever, in today’s society, it is critical to give students life skills that convert into jobs. Over the last four years 99% of students leaving the BRIT School have either gone into higher education or jobs within the creative economy.
“£20 million is an extraordinary figure and my thanks go to all the artists who have appeared at the BRIT Awards over the years, as well those acts who performed at Knebworth 27 years ago. This sum has only been made possible through their generosity of spirit.”
Chief executive of the BRIT Awards and BPI, Geoff Taylor, added: “The BRITs isn’t just about amazing performances and celebrating the best artists in the world. It’s also about raising money for people who deserve support. The music industry believes passionately in the power of music to improve people’s lives, and the whole business, from artists to labels, publishers and managers, will celebrate this important milestone. As The BRIT Awards approaches in February, we are looking forward to continuing to support the great work of the Trust.”
Recalling the contribution made by the Knebworth concert, Nick Mason, of Pink Floyd, said: “The most significant thing really was for us that this was the sort of kick off for The BRIT Trust and funding for The BRIT School which I think now in 2017 is even more relevant than it was 25 years ago - particularly for new young musicians. If I was honest, when we were asked to do the show - we jumped at it and it was a really nice idea to be able to do a concert that was geared to actually doing something for someone else.”
Sir Cliff Richard added: “I was there with The Shadows and it was a fantastic event and who would have thought that from there would come The BRIT School. Of course The BRITs have supported Nordoff Robbins too, and so £20 million that we've raised over the years, that is no mean feat. The education for children and their better understanding of music is a necessity.”