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Arts Council England’s network of National Youth Music Organisations is more than doubling!

Arts Council England and the Department for Education have announced eight new National Youth Music Organisations, taking the total number from seven to fifteen.

National Youth Music Organisations provide opportunities for thousands of young people across the country to take part in making, performing and enjoying music. 

From the coast of Cornwall up to the northern borders of England, these organisations offer large-scale, inclusive performances, music programmes, residencies, summer schools and workshops, helping to develop their skills, experience, and knowledge of music and supporting them to excel as young creatives.

All fifteen National Youth Music Organisations will receive funding as part of the Arts Council’s 2023-26 Investment Programme. The Department for Education has recognised the outstanding work of the organisations in the programme and will contribute £524,410 a year towards the programme.

Minister of State for Schools, Nick Gibb, said: “High quality music education is an important part of children and young people’s lives, both in and out of school, which is why the Government published the National Plan for Music Education last year and the Model Music Curriculum in 2021. 

“I want to see more young people across the country given the opportunity to make music, so I am delighted that we are expanding the number of National Youth Music Organisations from seven to fifteen.

“This is an important step towards the ambition set out in the National Plan, for all children and young people to have the opportunity to progress their musical interests and talents, including professionally.”

Established National Youth Music Organisations include The National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, National Youth Choir, The National Youth Jazz Collective, British Youth Music Theatre, Milap Festival Trust (SAMYO), Music for Youth and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

They will be joined by newcomers such as Liverpool-based Pagoda Arts, which teachers young people about Chinese music and culture.

Others include:

– National Children’s Orchestra of Great Britain, which gives children the chance to take part in making orchestral music

– Open Up Music, which launched the world’s first disabled-led national youth orchestra and now help schools set up accessible orchestras for disabled young people

– Awards for Young Musicians, which provides funding and support to young musicians from low-income families

– UD, which supports young people to explore Black music and culture

– National Youth Folk Ensemble, which enables young people throughout England to create and perform inspiring new arrangements of folk music

– Orchestras for All, which offers life-changing orchestral music-making experiences to young people facing significant barriers

– Sound and Music, which creates opportunities for young people aged 11 – 21 to compose and create their own music

The expansion of National Youth Music Organisations announced will help in the development of young musicians and music-makers, prioritising learning and expanding opportunities for young people to be inspired, take on advanced musical challenges, and make decisions about their future education and careers. 

Alumni of the programme include internationally-acclaimed artists Little Simz and Ed Sheeran.

Arts Council England chief executive, Darren Henley, said: “Music in all its forms has huge benefits for young people. 

“By more than doubling the number of National Youth Music Organisations we are bringing opportunities to learn an instrument, compose, and make music to even more children across the country. 

“The organisations joining the programme will provide thousands more young people with the chance to experience the joys music can create, and to learn skills that will stay with them throughout their lives, whether that means making music for fun or pursuing a career as a professional musician.”

Nick Thorne, executive director of newcomer Orchestras for All, said: “Being invited to join the network of National Youth Music Organisations is a milestone moment for Orchestras for All. 

“Since 2011, we have been championing inclusive music-making throughout the UK and we’re so proud to sit alongside a range of national ensembles and nationally significant organisations. 

“Our programmes will make a significant contribution towards the delivery of ‘The power of music to change lives: a national plan for Music Education’, which will be led by the young people we work with who inspire us each day through their passion, energy and barrier-smashing enthusiasm towards our work.”

A young member from the National Youth Choir added: “I have started to find out what I am capable of, not just in singing, but by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and if it goes wrong, nobody cares!

“In a short space of time, we’ve gone from knowing nothing to achieving an amazing sound. That makes me feel good about myself, being part of a team that creates such music. It makes me so happy.”

Image credit: Music for Youth Proms 2022 PhotoAlick Cotterill.

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