Annual Report 2023
"Whilst young people navigate increasing challenges in a fast-changing world, the demand to access the social, personal and wellbeing benefits of music is on the rise. In fact, the number of young people taking part in Youth Music funded projects increased by a huge 40% this year.
A big focus for us has been to ensure that those young people’s voices are even louder in everything we do. This year, we’ve given grants to over 100 young creatives to make their ideas happen. We’ve engaged young people in a wide range of roles, from the Youth Music Awards onstage and backstage crew to our regular funding advisors. We’ve made sure their opinions help shape the debate about AI in music. But they’ve told us in consultations that they want even more opportunities to get involved, and to influence our funding decisions. We’re excited to make this happen at a greater scale as we refresh our funds.
The third Youth Music Awards was another night to get young voices heard. We brought new sounds, new opinions and the future of the music industries to brands, music journalists and industry representatives. From artists and entrepreneurs to grassroots projects, young leaders and community activists, there was a lot to celebrate.
We were driven by five organisational objectives in
- Consolidate Initiatives and Embed Processes
- Increase Brand Value
- Increase Income via Partnerships
- Catalyse Change in Sector Practices
- Close Gap from Music Learning to Earning
We refreshed our business plan with a new strategic framework to start in April 2023. We also refreshed and updated HR policies and practices across a range of areas, as it’s important that we have a working culture that reflects our values and behaviours. This was echoed in our equitable approach to staff pay awards, which ensured that the lowest earners received the largest increases.
A big thanks goes out to the Youth Music team, who worked hard across the year to award funds, platform young people, and broker new partnerships. They are resolute and passionate and are key to our success.
This team includes the board, which was bolstered with six new trustees
this year. Each brings unique lived experience, skills, and expertise to the organisation. Together with the rest of the board, they’ll help to raise our
profile and secure crucial partnerships and income from the wider creative industries.
As we look towards our 25th anniversary in 2024, we are delighted to announce £28.95 million of National Lottery funding to Youth Music through
Arts Council England, as a delegated distributor of National Lottery funds, for the next three years. In response to Arts Council England’s Let’s Create
strategy and its vision for ensuring all children and young people can fulfil their creative potential, Youth Music will now bring its expertise in inclusive practice to more than music. This, coupled with ongoing investment from People’s Postcode Lottery, will ensure we can continue to equalise the sector, by providing support and vital funding.
Whilst there have been well publicised fears around the future of classical music this year, the importance of diverse music projects cannot be forgotten. And yet, our research has found that the grassroots projects providing these critical services are under threat. Exacerbated by economic shocks from significant events in recent years post-Brexit and COVID, the Cost-of-Living Crisis is taking its toll on the sustainability of projects nationwide. As funding is diverted to cover basics such as food, shelter and everyday essentials, music and creative activity risks being sidelined.
We see this playing out, as demand for Youth Music funding has reached an all-time high. Sadly, this means success rates are at a historic low. Last year less than a quarter received funding; this year it’s less than one in five. We launched a financial support and development programme in response to the Cost-of-Living Crisis, but our funds can only go so far. Grassroots projects are facing a funding crisis, and the situation is set to get worse.
We want to thank our funders, partners and sponsors for their crucial support this year. We know exactly where more help is needed, but we
can’t do it alone. We all need to step up to make sure every young person can make, learn and earn in music. Together, we can ensure the future of
music is more creative, more diverse and more inclusive."
- Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music
Download our 2023 Annual Report below to learn more about our latest impact.
Every Youth Music project measures its impact, helping us build a unique national overview. We're an outcomes-based funder, which means that we ask organisations to tell us what changes they expect their project to bring about.
OUTCOME 1: Lead in Diversifying
We know that we can better serve the young people we reach by building a team that understands, respects and reflects their diversity. We monitor the diversity of our staff and freelance team, reflecting on the changes each year through our all staff IDEA working group. This year, the representation of d/Deaf, Disabled and neurodivergent people within our staff team and board is higher than before, making us better equipped to understand the people we work with.
Our freelance workforce is more neurodiverse, has broader ethnic representation and
includes more individuals identifying as d/Deaf and Disabled.
OUTCOME 2: Catalyse Change in Sector Practices
This year, we’ve been working hard to integrate youth voice into our funding practices, consulting with young people aged 10 to 25 and creating paid opportunities for external advisors. This mean that funding decisions are led by those who they’re designed for. But they also benefit advisors too.
OUTCOME 3: Close Gap Learning to Earning
Our annual Youth Music NextGen Feedback survey helps us understand how we can best support 18–25-year-olds transition from learning to earning in music. We found that young creatives had improved access to progression routes, and increasingly shape and direct their music, having more control over their career.