DISADVANTAGED young musicians are being helped to shape a career in the industry through an ambitious seafront performance, thanks to a grant from Dorset Community Foundation.
Youth music charity B Sharp, which runs music workshops for up to 60 youngsters a week all over the west of the county, has been awarded £8,000 from the Dorset Performing Arts Fund, which is run by the community foundation.
B Sharp chief executive Ruth Cohen said the group will work with 11 talented young people to write and develop the music and art performance at the sea defences on Lyme Regis seafront on May 1.
“The Music Futures project is for young people who are seriously interested in music and are thinking about it as a career,” she said. “It’s a mentoring programme for young people in this rural area, who may need additional support to help them take next steps. We are really pleased to be able to support a diverse group of young people through the programme, including those with autism, those experiencing poor mental health and care leavers. “
“We want to give them an understanding of the range of roles available within the music industry and help them to know more about how they could get there, as well as give them the confidence and belief that they can get there.”
The group will be working with an outdoor events producer to produce the event, inviting other local young musicians to perform, and collaborating with the community in Lyme, including artists and musical groups, through a series of workshops. The group will be talking to Lyme Regis Town Council a date for the performance, which will include live music and pre-recorded pieces.
“The sea defences are a really interesting space, we wanted to do something site-specific that is different and inspirational,” said Mrs Cohen.
“This grant is massively helpful. It will allow us to have something really exciting to work towards and that you can build everything around. We can’t generally put on something on this scale and there’s no way we could have done it without the grant.”
Work is already under way on shaping the performance and signals a step closer to normality for the group which has had to adapt its support for young people during the pandemic.
This grant is massively helpful. It will allow us to have something really exciting to work towards and that you can build everything around
It had to cancel all its regular face-to-face work, including its weekly clubs and workshops in Lyme and Bridport for youngsters with a range of issues that leave them isolated from school and friends, including ADHD, autism, and mental health issues.
It set up group Zoom workshops and one-to-one wellbeing sessions for individuals to use creating and playing music as a tool to combat their isolation and anxiety.
B Sharp was given a £5,000 grant from the community foundation’s Dorset Coronavirus Community Fund, which distributed £1.1 millions to groups across the county, to help with the cost of going online, as well as with helping to make face-to-face workshops Covid safe.
“We did a lot with young people who were particularly struggling and they really benefited from music-making as a positive, creative thing to do,” said Mrs Cohen.
One mum wrote to the group to talk about the impact it had on her 11-year-old son. “He is absolutely loving your Zoom sessions, it keeps him connected with you, helps with his social skills and being part of it is so important,” she wrote.
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “We’ve been delighted to fund B Sharp because its invaluable work with young people gives them a voice they might never otherwise have.
“Having a creative outlet in an atmosphere that is friendly and supportive is a boost to mental health, self-esteem and confidence. The Music Futures project is particularly strong because it is offering talented teenagers an opportunity to change their lives.”