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Everyone from sound engineers to festival bookers, lighting designers and concert promoters, will teach 16-24 year olds from the Wirral and Merseyside everything they need to know about event management and technical production.
The 12-week programme, Sound Check, is free and covers areas like how to put on an event, book bands and arrange line-ups, and goes on to include stage management, lighting, sound, marketing and more.
Cath Hurley, originally from New Brighton and who has 15 years’ experience in the music business, is co-leader with Jez Wing.
She says: “We ran a scheme called Merseyrail Soundstation for promising artists and bands throughout Merseyside, so with Future Yard – headed by Craig Pennington and Chris Torpey – we’d like to continue that. But Sound Check enables us to introduce a different type of training, not for artists and bands but for those with an interest in live music who would like to explore event management and production.
“I will be working on the event management side, Jez Wing is leading on event production.”
Based at the brand-new Future Yard venue on Argyle Street in Birkenhead, Sound Check will support skills and training in a real industry setting. A core programme of workshops – there will be two sessions a week – will run alongside the chance to gain hands-on skills, shadowing the professionals at live events.
Cath says: “I knew I wanted to work in a support role in the music industry but like many wondered what I would be good at. This gives people with a real interest in live music that hands-on experience, teaching what roles there are, what skills you need to do them, and what interests you need to enjoy to be able to excel at them. We are working with Ad Lib who produce touring arena events with people like Rita Ora and Little Mix.
“We have found that there is a direct route into the industry in our region; there are large production and events companies crying out for new blood. We know there are jobs out there.”
And she adds: “The music industry can seem a little closed off. I went into the industry years ago as an independent promoter and no-one showed me what to do. I never got the chance to learn from experienced people and be able to get things wrong and learn from it in a safe space.
“The thought that people who want to create their own scenes, events or communities around genres of music they are interested in can do this programme, and learn to do it properly, seems like a gift.
“And it gives people the chance to do something they love and feel proud of themselves.”
The live music industry is worth £1.1bn each year to the UK economy and is exported around the world.
Like many industries, COVID-19 has provided a challenge – but it will survive, says Cath.
The live music industry remains a hugely significant industry locally, within the Liverpool City Region, and nationally.
“The music industry will survive because it’s built by people who are tenacious. The music industry for a number of years has known that it’s not totally sustainable, the price margins are small,” admits Cath, “and those striving within the city are used to working in that way.
“This has been a crisis and we are nowhere near on the other side of it. But we have a number of trade bodies in the music industry lobbying the government, and leading, power profile companies and others fundraising.
“The Music Venue Trust supports grass roots venues and when the live music industry was the first to close – and will be the last to re-open – it set up a crisis fund and everyone got behind it.
“No-one is on their own and music venues are now opening in different ways, with many awaiting the decision funding applications from the Culture Recovery Fund, which will come in early October.
Venues like Future Yard with a live gig – and live stream – on Saturday with Birkenhead band She Drew The Gun, prove it can be done.
“This is how we can do it. It’s not a normal show, but a performance, within Covid guidelines so people can be assured that they are safe and can still enjoy live music.
“The live music industry does have support, but it needs more. And it will survive.”
Sound Check is open to all local young people aged 16-24 with a passion for live music and an interest in making it their career. No previous experience is required. The programme is accredited through Arts Award. In completing Sound Check, participants will achieve a Bronze level qualification. Arts Award is a trusted, UCAS accepted arts sector qualification accredited by Trinity College London and Arts Council England.
You can apply now using the online form here.
The closing date is Monday, September 28 and the first Sound Check session is scheduled for October 6 at Future Yard, 75 Argyle Street, Birkenhead
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