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Sponsors Spotlight: Q&A with RSL Awards CEO Tim Bennett-Hart

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Pictured: Tim Bennett-Hart

In this series, we're passing the mic to some of our wonderful Youth Music Awards sponsors. Get an insider's perspective about what it's like to work at a leading music industry business and learn how to navigate your career as an emerging creative.

Thanks to sponsorship from RSL Awards, our Youth Music Awards 2023 brochure will give guests the low-down on all of the talented, trailblazing nominees, exciting performances and industry tastemakers that made up our judging panel.

Continuing our Sponsor Spotlight series, we get to know RSL Awards CEO, Tim Bennett-Hart. 

Tim started his career as a professional songwriter before moving into academia. As well as his role at RSL Awards, he is a trustee of the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre, and a non-executive director of the Federation of Awarding Bodies.

We caught up with Tim to hear about his achievements, hopes for the future, and the perks of working in arts education.

What is your most memorable achievement in your career?

I think back to the first time I heard a piece of music I wrote and produced on BBC Radio 1 - it was an amazing sense of achievement. But being completely honest, I get that same sense of achievement when a young person I’ve helped in their journey gets a similar break. I was lucky enough to teach lots of young people at university and colleges, and I love to see their success. My first teaching job had a group of young people in the class that formed You Me at Six, who have gone on to have several UK number one albums - they make me extremely proud. We were able to get Max from the band to help us with some of our Rockschool Acoustic Guitar material and it was a great sense of a circle completing.

It’s not just the headliners that make you feel this way either. I was at Abbey Road Studio and bumped into an ex-student who had joined their marketing department. Meeting them again in that context makes all the effort worthwhile.

What is one of RSL’s greatest accomplishments to date?

Music education can be surprisingly conservative. So, our greatest accomplishment is to make qualifications to inspire students and teachers, but also have real meaning for peoples’ futures. Our VQs that are used by hundreds of schools, colleges, training providers, and community groups are a great example of how much can be achieved if we put real care into our work. Our achievement is not just to make these qualifications, but to keep them available and funded by Government at a time when there are challenging reforms to deal with.

If you could collaborate with any artist or organisation who would it be and why?

We’re so lucky that we get to work with amazing people every day. Youth Music has been a great partner to collaborate with, and we’d like to do even more. In my dreams we’d probably have the love child of David Bowie, Bjork, Stevie Wonder, and Joni Mitchell come to help out at RSL.

What is one thing you’d still like for RSL to achieve in the near future?

Two things come to mind when I think about what we can achieve in the near future. Firstly, we’re striving to continue to inspire people to create exceptional art whether that be in music, the performing arts, or even new media.

Secondly, we’ve really started to change the conversation about equity and inclusivity in music education over the last few years. We will continue this work to achieve greater representation and engagement for performers worldwide across the Creative Arts.

Describe one thing that professionals in the creative arts could do to better prepare the next generation of performers for the industry?

I actually think it’s the other way around. I’ve always felt that the next generation open the minds of current professionals. However, as people with more experience, we must ensure that we provide opportunities by offering our time, experience, and care in an open and humble way.

What is one piece of advice you wish you were told about music and the performing arts as a young creative?

A career in the creative arts isn’t just one thing, it’s a collection of many opportunities and experiences. That’s the exciting thing about the industry. You are constantly learning, adapting, and working in new ways.

Describe one perk of working in music and performing arts education?

Being inspired every day is a fantastic perk for any job. Our RSL learners are a true inspiration, and seeing their work from across the globe is a reason to come to work every day.

If you started your career again with the knowledge you have now, what would you do differently?

I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s the journey that makes you who you are. Sometimes there are challenges, sometimes there are opportunities - both need an equal amount of dedication and commitment to take you where you want to go.


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