Gill O’Donnell describes funding available from the organisation Youth Music

Youth Music is a UK-wide charity set up in 1999 to provide high-quality and diverse music-making opportunities for 0- to 18-year-olds. Its focus is on young people living in areas of social and economic need who might otherwise lack opportunity. It has three specific roles: a funder, development agency and advocate.

Its aim is to establish a music-making legacy that fulfils the following objectives:

  • Access – For those with least opportunity.
  • Breadth – Music of all styles and all cultures.
  • Coverage – Rural, urban, coastal and UK-wide.
  • Development – Music leaders getting better at what they do.
  • Quality – Encouraging high standards and access to progression routes for all.

It aims to support music-making in the broadest sense by providing funding, training for music leaders and by working strategically to bring together partnership organisations from across the music, education and social sectors. The funding available complements music in the national curriculum by supporting music activities principally held outside of school hours and delivered by non-profit making organisations. It receives funding in the region of £10m per annum from the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, and as such can only support projects in England. However, links are being established with the Arts Councils in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to enable future developments in these countries. In addition to the Arts Council funding it has accessed more than £13.7m in partnership funding from other sources and by 2010 aims to have reached more than three million young people and their communities.

How does the funding work?
Youth Music principally distributes its funding in four ways:

Open programmes

Youth Music is eager to support children and young people who are taking their first musical steps and will therefore support young people up to the age of 18. Youth Music will consider applications involving young people in detention, or with special educational needs (SEN) up to the age of 25. The open programmes currently operating are as follows:

First Steps – creative music-making for children aged 0-5. Between £5,000 and £15,000 is available for projects lasting six to 12 months. Projects must ensure they:

  • include creative music activities incorporating simple instruments, voice and movement
  • include structured music activities that are planned to develop children’s skills and lead to a smooth transition to primary school
  • include sharing music-making with parents and carers. First Steps aims to influence parents and carers to show that music-making is a fun learning tool and a natural part of growing. This does not necessarily mean that they have to be present at each workshop
  • involve a skilled early years music specialist who is prepared to work with trainees (staff or parents) to hand on skills with the aim of ensuring that those staff and parents build confidence in music-making and can lead if and when the specialist’s involvement comes to an end
  • include weekly, progressive group music-making and music of more than one culture.

Make It Sound – music-making for five- to 18-year-olds who otherwise lack the chance to take part. Proposals are welcomed that include music-making activities for children and young people who find it hard to access opportunities that may help them to develop and progress. Funding of between £10,000 and £30,000 is offered for projects of six to 24 months’ duration. Projects must ensure they:

  • include structured music-making activities that develop children and young people’s music skills
  • include composition, song writing and/or improvisation
  • include no more than 25% activity in school hours – (except students with special educational needs and those excluded from mainstream education or in detention)
  • include children and young people aged 5-18 (up to 25 with SEN).

Vocalise! – programmes where the voice is the main instrument. The programme was developed to encourage opportunities for children and young people to sing, particularly those who would otherwise lack the chance to take part. Funding of between £5,000 and £20,000 is available for projects lasting from six to 18 months. Projects must ensure they:

  • include music-making where the voice is the main instrument
  • include structured singing or vocal activities that develop children and young people’s music skills
  • include opportunities for children and young people to share their achievements, for example performing to their friends, family or wider community
  • involve children and young people age 5-18 (up to 25 with SEN)
  • include no more than 25% activity in school hours (except students with special educational needs and those excluded from mainstream education or in detention)
  • do not spend more than 5% of the total award on equipment (eg instruments, technology, and sheet music).

Although schools are eligible for all of these programmes. Youth Music is especially keen to support schools that want to begin or develop activities outside school hours. In order to do this they prefer for schools to work together in partnership either with each other or with other organisations nearby. An ideal system would be for a secondary school to work with its feeder primary schools. They also welcome proposals from schools which want to work with a community music group or a community studio, thereby developing resources and skills that cannot, necessarily, be developed within a school setting.

Youth Music action zones

Since December 2000, Youth Music has set up 22 action zones. These are based in areas of social and economic need across England. A further two have now been established in Wales. Applications are solicited from regional consortiums and therefore it is important to use the website to check out what is already happening in your region.

The programme is not an open programme and therefore cannot be applied for, but it is possible for individual schools to become part of what is happening already in their action zone. Each zone is unique in that it is designed to respond to the needs of the particular community which it serves. However, they are generally made up of a consortium of experienced partners that link together organisations from the public, voluntary and private sectors and share the same common objectives.

The zones deliver a wide range of music-making covering all music styles and genres; from funk to folk, roots to reggae, jazz to junk, classical to choral, garage to gospel. Activities include workshops, rehearsals, performances, one-to-one teaching and mentoring.

Youth Music action zones have already reached over 150,000 young people, giving many of them their first real experience of music-making.

Youth Music initiatives

There are a wide range of initiatives or events that complement the above programmes and which are open to all schools. Full details of ongoing projects are given on the website.

Many schools have used money from Youth Music to support out of school hours activities as part of their extended schools offerings. The key here is to include parents and local organisations.
There are strict guidelines on what Youth Music will not fund. The list includes:

  • instrument purchase
  • profit making organisations
  • management development
  • activities that have already taken place
  • fundraising events or competitions
  • capital projects
  • core funding for organisations
  • individual schools (they will only fund a consortium of schools made up of two or more institutions)
  • individuals – such as students or young musicians
  • equipment purchase – although 5% of the allocated budget is available for equipment purchase (10% in the Make It Sound programme)
  • one-off events and trips (they prefer projects which demonstrate sustainability and progression)
  • projects of less than six months in length
  • two programmes running at the same time.

Key points to remember
When applying to Youth Music the key points to bear in mind are as follows:

  1. Funding is available over a period of six to 24 months.
  2. Participants must be 0-18 (or up to 25-year-olds with special educational needs, disabilities or in detention).
  3. Music-making activity must take place principally outside of school hours (except for children aged 0-5 years and young people with SEN or in detention).
  4. Activities that involve training and development are eligible.
  5. The charity will actively support structured music-making activities which are planned to advance children and young people’s music skills.
  6. All projects are required to make regular reports, including an end of project evaluation.
  7. Applications for the open programmes will take a minimum of three months to process (forms are available from the website).

There are also further hints and tips available on the website, along with details of how to fill in application forms. These make extremely helpful reading, as do the frequently asked questions which do their best to address a number of misconceptions about the programme. There are also sections to help ensure that your project is sustainable and how to go about making repeat applications.

Contact details: Youth Music, 1 America Street, London SE1 0NE • Telephone: 020 7902 1060