A COMMUNITY INTEREST COMPANY
Beat This was founded in 2009 by two passionate music producers Lee Ashton and Ben Turner. They realised that there was a lack of extra curricula music activity in Peterborough and wanted to set up a service that would give people access to a wide range of interactive, hands-on musical and creative experiences. They decided to set up a charitable, not-for-profit social enterprise called Beat This, as the vehicle to
deliver this service.
The first challenge for Beat This was to raise their profile quickly and to establish themselves in the minds of those they wanted to work with and for. Free workshops in their local shopping centre raised their profile in a very quick and public way. This led to them being asked by the local Pupil Referral network to deliver workshops at their centres and then to the council’s young people’s service at local Youth clubs. A workshop used music technology and produced a CD called meet the councillor in which young people recorded sound-bites having been introduced to their local councillor and raps by the young people about their lives. By choosing a project involving local councillors the council also became aware of the skills of the practitioners. By including high profile participants in their delivery they introduced themselves to others in a much more dynamic way than letters or emails could have.
QUALIFICATION OF THE RESULTS THROUGH OUTCOMES,
OUTPUTS AND TESTIMONIALS
Once they had people’s attention the next step was to prove the long term benefits of using their skills in the community. To draw in greater investment over a longer term and grow their practice Beat This needed to show partners and potential investors the difference made to young people through their work.
Using feedback, testimonials and outputs from each successive project they secured funding and developed partnerships which enabled the organisation to grow.
By networking with other small groups at PCVS (Peterborough Council for Voluntary Services) this led to funding a small project around Cohesion provided by the Greater Peterborough Partnership’s cohesion grant. PCVS have helped with advice and company health checks to make sure all the paper work around health and safety, safeguarding, and equal opportunities were all up to date and fit for purpose. This was very important as it gave Beat This the confidence to apply to funders knowing that the company paper work and policies were all in place. The result of having solid company policies meant that in March 2010 they felt it would help the organisation to apply to be a Community Interest Company thus following the social enterprise modal that the current government is encouraging. Finding other directors in Richard Hall and George Barrette and becoming a CIC has allowed Beat This to apply for funds knowing that the funders have increased confidence in the company, as it is regulated by companies house and the CIC regulator. Furthermore it allows them to provide contracted services to the public sector and other third sector organisations. The more partners, support groups and other organisations they worked with, the more opportunities opened up to them. This led to them successfully applying to the big lottery fund to provide forty workshop in four SEN schools and the Skills Funding Agency’s NLDC (Neighbourhood Learning in Deprived Communities) funding for investing in and training new Music
Leaders as community musicians.
INVESTMENT IN TRAINING
With more opportunities comes the need for more capacity and in an area with little history of delivery music leaders needed training from scratch.
Shortly after setting up the The Youth Music funded Musicleader programme started in the East of England. At one of the first start up sessions in Peterborough some of the less experienced Beat Thistutors learnt about music leading as a profession. This was a great help to these tutors as they learnt about what was needed with regards to self employment and the code of practice the participants all got a lot from the day. The lack of this type of opportunity in Peterborough but the wealth musicians meant that they wanted to find out about this avenue of work. These sessions raised the awareness of community music as a profession and provided networks of musicians to discuss projects and the support that music MusicLeader is able to provide.
Beat This tutors have since attended MusicLeader sessions in Social Networking and Finance management. These sessions gave them valuable tools to share their work with others, find avenues to further work and manage their finances as self employed musicians with regards to tax and expenses.
Beat This Directors have all participated in the MusicLeader Development Needs Analysis sessions to help focus the direction of their practice. They found the DNA sessions to be very useful as they are tailored to each person specific needs and situation, the sessions focused there roles within the company and as practitioners leading to improved strategies for the company and vision for there own practice, through attending this session one Directors (Lee Ashton) has applied for a MA in Community Music having learnt of the course from the advisor. Beat This CIC have also trained their staff to deliver the Arts award Qualifications.
In June 2011 Beat This successfully secured NLDC funding in partnership with their local college to train 20 music leaders. The participants will spend between 40 – 50 hrs over just six months developing skills that will enable them to design and deliver a wide range of workshops.
At the time of writing Beat This CIC has successfully applied Comic Relief, Microsoft Research fund and Waitrose Community Matters fund totalling £13,235 to build a community studio called Chime and deliver music workshops to adults with additional needs, facilitating instrument, recording and band workshops under the banner of Lava Lamp Live. The studio is hoped to sustain the project as it will provide funds by running as a commercial recording studio with surplus adding to the funds available to provide more workshops. This modal will give those students that have learnt how to sound engineer valuable experience in as professionals in a recording studio.
COMMITTMENT TO NETWORKING
As projects and partnerships started to develop Beat This CIC became aware of the need to link with their other organisations and practitioners from further a field. Peterborough services many of the villages and town across a large part of the fens. From the outset Beat This have travelled across the region and capitalised on key networking opportunities. They attended the National Rockschools convention at The 02. They heard about different modals and organisations from across the country, and formed vital links with music providers in their region. This allowed time to reflect on their business and compare practice with organisations with more experience. A key partner for Beat This to deliver in more rural areas is ADeC (Arts Development east Cambrigdeshire) They have built a strong working relationship with this arts provider, consistently providing them with quality work. They have received numerous accounts of good feedback from both the young people and youth workers involved in the projects.
In a region with little previous delivery, a low awareness of what community music is and few skilled practitioners Beat This have very quickly and skilfully established themselves as a respected and valued organisation working creatively with young people across the Fens.
We are proud to say that we are managed and run solely by volunteers and believe that this has helped to shape us an organisation and grow organically.
If you would like to get involved in volunteering then there are plenty of opportunities available such as:- Marketing, Press, Administration, Helping in the Studio or with delivering workshops and teaching.
Check out the Beat This scrapbook HERE!