The Livewire Project 2013

An evaluation of Livewire activities in 2013

Through 2013, Livewire has run three week-long workshops in Hereford, focusing on lyric and song writing, band-building, DJing, music recording and music production.  Between these weeks, there has been weekly provision in local pupil referral units, schools and the Castle Green Pavilion.

Aside from looking at inclusion of young musicians across the educational and social spectrums, Livewire has constantly recognised the need for bringing together those facing rural isolation.  There will be another discussion started on this issue soon but, for now, we hope you enjoy the attached evaluation of this year's Livewire activities written by Nicky Jaques, former Youth Music Project Manager

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Ayvin Rogers's picture

I enjoyed reading this very much! Great to see so many positive stories from individuals. On the boarder of Dorset and Devon, B Sharp shares many of the rural challenges facing Livewire. I think you've shown how important partnership work is in rural settings. You are a good example of grass roots organisations taking the lead on joined up thinking and action. I know this takes a great deal of time. Lots of strategic meetings occur that are not related to specfic projects yet lay the foundations of future work. This kind of R&D is usually unfunded in small organisations that don't get core funding.

The future of local authorty services and support for young people looks bleak. The mutual support between youth workers and Music Leaders has so many good outcomes when working in challenging circumstances. It seems short sighted to cut youth services and force the third sector to try and fill the gap.

Congratulations on your work.

anita holford's picture

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anita holford's picture

Thanks for commenting Ayvin, and good points including re unfunded core/R&D activities, it's something all voluntary sector music organisations struggle with.

I'd be interested to hear from Musical Inclusion projects how Musical Inclusion funding has helped with this - as it has a large element of strategic work embedded in the requirements. Any thoughts, readers?

The Music Pool's picture

Interesting to hear about your work Ayvin. Had a look at the B Sharp website and it looks like good work. My roots are in Devon (I used to collect fossils at Lyme Regis!) and I know that it's a struggle to be an arts organisation or practitioner there at the moment. I think you're right that we're facing many of the same issues. It would be great to see an evaluation of your work too.

You're right about partnerships being important but, having worked in community music projects in Leeds for the last few years, I don't think it's any less important at all in an urban environment. I hope you'll agree that any projects targeting the same demographic and with the same aims should never be in isolation, let alone competition, though perhaps the fact that partnerships are actually happening in all areas is more of a 'sign of the times' than I realise.

I'm going to post a discussion tomorrow on how we have tackled rural isolation through a more centralised provision. It would be great to hear what you think.

Thanks
Jack Sibley (Youth Music Project Manager)

Ayvin Rogers's picture

Hi Jack. You are right that partnerships are valuable wherever you are. I think my point was trying to touch on the difficulties rural organisations have in finding suitable partners that are reasonably close by. The sustainability of any organisation depends upon reaching a critical mass of customers and other resources. The need to support rural individuals is there but the struggle of getting to the 'critical mass' that makes economic sense for an organisation to exist means that many local services found in cities simply don't exist or are widely dispersed in rural areas. It follows that outward looking organisations in rural settings have to look further a field for
1. Suitable partners to share resources and make efficiencies
2. Customers
Some organisations may be put off when they face issues like transport (time taken, availability and cost) for customers, staff and volunteers and this impacts on building partnerships. So, while all third sector organisations benefit from partnership work, there are particular challenges with this in rural areas. Not so much is on your doorstep but the effort to collaborate is important and rewarding.

Transport often becomes critical when operating in areas of low population density (see Jodie Bray's paper on rural issues in Youth Music's 2013 Full Impact Report, pages 57-66). I look forward to reading your blog about tackling rural isolation through a more centralised provision. There are obvious conflicts between the efficiencies of centralised provision that helps an organisation (getting that critical mass) vs transport issues to get there from outlying areas. Transport subsidy may be one solution, but there are also issues around journey miles and environmental impact. I would imagine there are more collective miles involved with lots of people travelling to a central location compared to outreach workshops servicing cold spots. Julie’s Bicycle is a good website that addresses environmental sustainability and the arts. http://www.juliesbicycle.com It is difficult to balance this.

We’ve had the view that when possible, we should bring the training etc to people, not the other way around. However, transport costs get frightening and we get nervous about asking funders to subsidise this because it can dominate the budget and less project activity happens pound for pound. When a funder wants to support teaching and music making as a priority, are these rural inefficiencies value for money? Should there be a formular and special considerations for rural settings - at what point do transport costs make a proposition unsupportable?

Re seeing an evaluation of our work, we recently submitted our end of project report to Youth Music for our first Young Music Leadership work. We have a good story to tell. I’d be happy to share this but at the moment it’s in the raw Q&A format of the report form. You’ve spent some time to make yours attractive to read, with lots of visual support to excite and warm your story. I’d love to do the same and make it part of our first annual report as a charity, put on our website and share with networks but this will have to wait for the new year as I’ve got to do my end of year accounts for my own business – the tax man is waiting….:) In the meantime, you may enjoy the recent blog I posted about our Busking Festival with a short video of what it means for young people - some nice vox pops that have a similar feel to the quotes in your report. http://network.youthmusic.org.uk/learning/blogs/ayvin-rogers/b-sharp-bus...

The Music Pool's picture

Hi Ayvin,
You make some very strong points about partnerships. I think we are lucky in that Livewire has strong working partnerships with a variety of organisations in the area. In particular, the Hereford College of Art, The Courtyard Centre for the Arts (where we are based) and Close House youth services. In the discussion I have started on our centralised provision model, I mention the lack of access to networks that would have been in place had the youth services around the county still been operational. This has left us and the organisations mentioned above having no choice but to work together to build up our own networks of young people.

A decisive factor when changing to a centralised provision is also mentioned in the other discussion I have started. This is the fact that, when workshops are run in rural areas for short time periods, young people can feel left behind and abandoned when we were forced to leave. This led to further disengagement and an 'undoing' of the positive work we had done. Through our new system, there is a sustained provision that our young musicians understand they have to travel for from the start. There is no expectation of us going to them and therefore no feeling of abandonment; no feeling that we don't care about them when we cannot continue provision in their area.

I would be very interested to hear what your experience of these particular circumstances is as clearly we would like to be able to travel to more rural areas to provide workshops but feel it is counter-productive for our situation.

The Music Pool's picture

Also, great video. Enjoyed it a lot. Really highlights that frustrating lack of a platform for young musicians in rural areas but so great to see your participants enjoying themselves so much!