by Author ArtsTrain

Published on

You are here:

Creative music programme ArtsTrain supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy to develop the ‘South East London Musicians Funding Network’


Creative music programme ArtsTrain supported by Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy to develop the ‘South East London Musicians Funding Network’

ArtsTrain is a creative music programme supporting the musical development of young people and the professional development of music practitioners across outer South East London.

Part of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio for 2018-22, ArtsTrain offers opportunities for young people and practitioners in a part of outer London with very little arts infrastructure and no NPOs.

Here at ArtsTrain we have supported the development of our Music Leaders for over a decade, with the artists / facilitators regularly requesting support with fundraising. Unlike other art forms, there is little infrastructure in the music industry to support artist development which is generally commercialised, with musicians mainly making a living through live performance or streaming if they’re lucky. Musicians are at the mercy of an increasingly tough and unsupportive industry, with little ability to define their own artistic direction, and as a result regularly compromising their artistic vision to what is financially viable, and often not getting paid themselves.

Over the past 3 years we have been building a community of artists through a series of ad hoc funding workshops, most recently an Arts Council focused session with a Relationship Manager from the London Music team. From these early sessions it became apparent that fundamental training was needed - most musicians were simply not at the stage to put an application together, and lacked a basic understanding of both project and financial planning. We designed this new series which we are delighted to be funded by Cause 4 ‘Arts Fundraising & Philanthropy Network’.

The Network

Made up of 25 ‘non classical’ music artists / practitioners based in South East London

Female      52%                     BAME      56%                     Age range    20-71  

Drummers | Producers | DJs | Promoters | Composers | Singer Songwriters | Street busker | Spoken word artists | Sound artists | Vocal arrangers | Steel band composer | Poets | Instrumentalists

It was a great afternoon and I was really impressed by diversity you were able to bring together with the workshop. (Barnaby Duff, Creative Programme Officer, Help Musicians UK)

This series of workshops demystified the world of funding and walked artists through a step-by-step guide to making their first funding application. The workshops provided artists with unique access to funders from Arts Council England, PRS Foundation and Help Musicians UK.

The workshops were facilitated by expert facilitator and Independent Creative Producer, Victor Redwood-Sawyerr, who guided each artist through what funders are looking for and giving top tips on how to make a successful application.

This programme was designed for early/mid-career music artists or producers of any genre with some experience/track record who have not made a funding application before, or who have little experience.


WORKSHOP 1 - Meet the Funders

When would you ever get the chance to be face to face with funders like this, it made the process feel more real, more human and took the fear out of applying

Our first workshop was attended by a hugely diverse network of local artists including DJs, jazz performers and music producers in their 20s and 30s through to older artists in their 70s. The diversity of musical experience included Trevor, a street busker, Leo a Brazilian music promoter and Helga a young Icelandic composer! A number had applied to PRSF; one had had a successful ACE application 5 years ago, but the rest of the group described a lack of understanding of the terminology used by funders and confusion as to ‘what they were really looking for’.

Presentations from PRSF and Help Musicians helped demystify these two funders. Barnaby from Help Musicians provided a very helpful and easy to remember outline as to where he saw the main music funders sitting – Help Musicians is ‘about the musician’ PRSF is ‘about the music’ and Arts Council is ‘about the music sector’. Barnaby’s presentation here

Elizabeth went through all the different funds that PRS Foundation offer and explained the progression route from entry level funding to ‘Momentum’ their final and highest level of support. Click here for more info


WORKSHOP 2 - You and Your Project

It was so reassuring to hear from other artists, share my ideas with people that understand the challenges. I now have the confidence to apply, feeling a bit more like there is a human on the other side of my application form… like I stand a chance

This session was led by Victor Redwood-Sawyerr with both Rachel and Keith pitching in. Again the group was at capacity with diverse ages and musical backgrounds represented. It was a less structured session, with the aim of enabling an open conversation and opportunity for people to talk about their individual project ideas and get feedback on them. Victor opened the session with some fairly sobering stats around funding successes and the current climate; before we moved onto case studies of other musicians who had funding success. The group talked about some interesting individual projects which included a year-round steel pan band for young people, a new Brazilian music festival, a new artist residency and many others. The lack of knowledge around budgeting became quite clear (timely in view of the next session being about budgeting). Key messages from the session can be found in the attached documents section


WORKSHOP 3 - Writing a Budget Made Easy

I now finally understand the terminology around budgets, where before it seemed like it wasn’t for me. I haven’t just learned about writing budgets, I have started to value my time as an artist and resource this properly. 

This lively and surprisingly oversubscribed session (we really had to squash people in!) demonstrated most musician’s lack of confidence around budgeting and their desire to understand more about it. Led by Rachel and Keith the group were taken through sample budgets, and an activity to demystify the terminology used within budgets (words such as ‘overheads’, ‘in kind’ ‘access costs’ ‘shortfall’ etc.). The jargon buster from this session can be found in the attached documents section

 Many of those present hadn’t realised that they could pay themselves a fee for writing time and rehearsals. The group learnt how to put a simple budget together and what funders would expect to see within it. They worked in small groups supported by Keith Rachel and Alice on their individual project budgets and, as the evaluation demonstrates, felt much more confident at the end of the session. Useful budgeting resources can be found in Joe Danher’s Blog for Help Musicians UK 


Workshop 4 - How to Plan Your Project

I have started to really understand the importance in planning ahead and working in partnership with other artists/ organisations 

For the final group session we were joined by Charlotte Penny, Relationship Manager from the Arts Council London Music Team. She took the group through the two Arts Council funds most relevant to their work – Develop Your Creative Practice and Project Grants up to £15k. She gave general advice about the difference between those two funds (emphasising the importance of making a ‘step change’ for a DYCP application). A lot of the group had already done the groundwork for this session – a number had already registered on the ACE portal ‘Grantium’, others had brought in questions derived from previous sessions, and nearly all had read the guidance for the funds. As well as the nuts and bolts of ACE funding applications, Charlotte talked about why some applications succeed and others don’t. Charlotte very generously offered her own email as a contact and said that she would be willing to look over drafts for people if they got to that stage – we expect there to be a fair take up on this!

Developing Your Creative Practice – Top 10 Tips



100% of artists reported an improved understanding in project planning and budgeting

Artists reported a  33% average improvement in their understanding of project planning

Artists reported a  32% average improvement in their understanding of budgets

Artists reported a  39% average improvement in their understanding of available funding


66% of artists reported that the course content was 'very good'

33% of artists reported that the course content was 'good'


So what’s next?

The attendance rate for the series over all was 88% demonstrating how valued the opportunity was for local artists, with an average of 20 attendees at each session. At the end of the network series 18 artists had attended 2 or more sessions and 10 artists received individual 1-2-1 funding sessions with Victor. To date we are aware that 5  attendees have already made applications to Arts Council, PRS Foundation and Help Musicians funding. We look forward to hearing how they get on and are in contact with others about potential work opportunities with both ArtsTrain and the Albany.