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Making music: Grants for the arts supports music in the south east

  • Date: 6 June 2011
  • Artform: Music
  • Area: South East
Resonance Project - Abbazia di Farfa, Rome, 2008 Resonance Project - Abbazia di Farfa, Rome, 2008, Photo courtesy of Oliver Beer

Our Grants for the arts scheme is a great place for new and innovative music projects to get off the ground - no matter what their size. Individuals and first-time applicants are encouraged to apply to our National Lottery funded, open application scheme.

And no matter what their genre. We support a wide range of music types, such as experimental, classical, early music, African music, opera, roots and folk, electronic, choral, orchestra, jazz, popular music, world music and more.

Ben Lane, Music Relationship Manager for the south east explains: 'We support a whole range of music projects, from individual composers who want to research and develop new concepts to project support for orchestras and projects touring new work.

'From a regional folk tour of tin built small churches to a touring showcase of local African musicians in Sussex, to a city orchestra to an individual composer, working with a producer, Grants for the arts can support lots of different and far ranging work.'

Research and development

Grants for the arts can support research and development and developing product.

Ben Lane says: 'We're here to help people test out new ideas. I love talking through ideas for potential applications. People shouldn't be scared of phoning up. Talking through projects in advance can help shape projects and work out if Grants for the arts is the right scheme.

'If composers have a new product they want to develop and come to us for support, we still need to see some kind of public performance, even if it's research and development - this could be touring or doing education work.

'When they're looking to take risks to develop new ideas or requires them to tour to disseminate their music more widely, that's where we can help.'

One good example of research and development work is Brighton-based musician Daniel Clark and his Earfilm project, which is experimental spoken storytelling that uses sound design, soundtrack and innovative audio technology. The project is currently at R&D stage and we have supported it this year with a £9,947 Grants for the arts award.

Daniel will be creating a series of Earfilms, meeting with specialists and running test groups and pilot studies.

'Earfilm crosses several borders. It combines spoken word with soundtrack and music. His work is an integrated way of thinking about sound and stories. It's more than just audiobook.'

Ben says, 'He was recently commissioned by Nottingham Castle. The national charity for blind ex-Service men and women and their families St Dunstan are also interested in his work.'

Working in partnership

A new project that aims to celebrate Crawley's cultural diversity will bring together musicians of all abilities and background from the city's four main community festivals.

South East Folk Arts Network's Crawley multi-cultural commission project will see two new pieces of music commissioned, supported with a £44,050 Grants for the arts award. The work will be devised by South East composer Robert Jarvis and a group of young professional musicians and community groups.

The project involves Gujar Hindu Union and its sister organisation the Crawley International Mela, the Celtic and Irish Cultural Association, Crawley Black History Foundation and Crawley Folk Festival, as well as the smaller grass-roots groups.

Ben Lane says: 'It's important to see partnerships and engagement with infrastructure in project applications because it means you can get wider audience and participation.'

Soundwaves Festival
is an experimental, contemporary classical and sound art music festival in Brighton that we are supporting with a £30,000 Grants for the arts award.

'Their project is a good example of building wider partnerships and creating something that's experimental and innovative. They have partnerships with Lighthouse, University of Brighton, and experimental music publication Wire Magazine. Partners can help and manage events, but they can also add artistically to your project as well as helping to reach new audiences.'

This year The Opera Group was supported with a £200,000 Grants for the arts award to support new work and tour nationally.

'They have an innovative approach to developing partnerships - they look beyond the people you'd normally expect to go to opera.

'For example, one of their productions Lion's Face, was a artistic exploration of the issues around dementia and Alzheimers. They collaborated with the Institute of Psychiatry right at the beginning of the creative process, enabling a deep understanding between artists and scientists.

'Their partnership with the scientific community meant they had the potential to engage with people who may never have gone to opera before. For example, for anybody who had been touched by the issues addressed in the opera, it gave them another way in.'

Experimental music
Grants for the arts doesn't just support more traditional forms of music. It also encourages experimental music and sound art.

Oliver Beer's The Resonance Project turned a multi-story car park in Birmingham into a "giant architectural instrument," using professional choir Ex Cathedra to make the space resound at its natural resonant frequencies. The performance and subsequent film was supported with a £7,500 Grants for the arts award in 2010.

More recently, we supported a Chesham-based experimental contemporary music group to commission new work in Quantulum, supported with a £9,000 Grants for the arts award. Kate Halsall and Semra Kurutaç make up duoDorT, who create work with piano, keyboard and electronics.

Ben says: 'duoDorT came to us to commission six composers to write new works for their duet. They're all female composers working with experimental or cross genre music.'

Widening access

Last year, Wokingham Choral Society created a new local community choir called Wokingham Choral Academy, supported with a £7,000 Grants for the arts award. Its aim is to help local people learn to sing, develop basic music skills and provide the confidence to join existing choral groups in the area. The choir is open to anyone over age 18 and has no entry audition.

Ben Lane says: 'What was interesting about this project is that it wasn't just a local amateur society looking for help for their regular activities. It was about widening access and offering a sustained bit of activity that opened up access to music.'