National music and young people’s charity Youth Music has announced 31 music organisations to receive funding from the first round of its £2 million Incubator Fund, with support from the People’s Postcode Lottery.
Independent organisations across England, Wales and Scotland have been granted up to £30,000 to improve access to sustainable creative careers for people aged 18-25.
Those selected demonstrated "viable and progressive plans to drive better equality in the music industry" include black radio station and lockdown success story No Signal (launching a three-month industry training programme), London-based jazz group Ezra Collective (training black women in behind-the-scenes music roles) and Bristol broadcaster Noods Radio (empowering young people to spearhead its record label with the Test Pressings project).
The organisations we're funding are trailblazers in their own fields
Matt Griffiths, Youth Music
Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, 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. We constantly campaign to rebuild a more inclusive music industry and our Incubator Fund allows us to propel the forward-thinking organisations sharing that vision.
“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, such as No Signal and Ezra Collective. That’s the long-term impact of investing in grassroots music.”
In July, Youth Music unveiled its A Blueprint For The Future report, which highlighted systemic issues leading to an unrepresentative music industry, and called on the business to tackle longstanding inequalities, which it said has been further amplified by the Black Lives Matter movement and coronavirus pandemic.
Femi Koleoso, bandleader and Ezra Collective, said: "The impact of the pandemic hit us all mentally, financially and in many other ways. This year was meant to be our world tour and, while that’s no longer our reality, it’s given us a chance to rest, breathe and enjoy what we had left. Each other and our music.
"The underrepresentation of black women in the industry is something really close to our hearts, with six black members of our team. 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.
"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. Inclusivity and representation are at the heart of the band and our music. The funding means this exciting new project is possible.”
Youth Music partners with likeminded organisations keen to invest in the future of music by funding forward-thinking projects. Further funding announcements will follow later this year. For more information about the Incubator Fund and application process, click here.
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