Value Of Music: The Abram Wilson Foundation
Here, at The BRIT Trust & BPI, we want to highlight the importance of the Value of Music, not just to the Economy and through its positive social impact, but also to our personal well-being. It’s only through looking at all the amazing benefits of music that we can really see the full value of music to us and those around us.
Get to know the Abram Wilson Foundation, one of the worthy causes supported by the BRIT Trust.
What is the Abram Wilson Foundation?
The Abram Wilson Foundation (AWF) was founded in 2012 and is inspired by the late, great Abram Wilson and the values he embodied as both a critically acclaimed, award winning musician and an inspiring educator. His legacy and spirit live on in our work and those who are proud to have called him their teacher and mentor. In his short life, Abram achieved greatness. The Foundation exists to help others do the same.
Our aims are:
– To equip young people with 21st century skills
– To improve access to the arts
– To help support the future of music in the UK
We support young people to become the greatest version of themselves through music by facilitating:
– Creative workshops in schools
– Strategic support and showcase opportunities for talented, up and coming musicians
– Continuing Professional Development for our cohort of musicians and teachers
– Live performances
We have two programmes that fall under the banner of ‘Achieve Your Greatness’:
– Our multi-disciplinary arts education programme for 11-16 year olds with a special focus on Years 7 and 8 from disadvantaged backgrounds.
– Our career development programme supporting up and coming musicians to build successful and sustainable careers.
The BRIT Trust recently awarded the Abram Wilson Foundation with a grant of £5,000, what will this money support?
The BRIT Trust grant will go towards the planning, expansion, delivery and evaluation of our Achieve Your Greatness arts education programme (AYG). This is a multi-arts education programme for 11-16 year olds with a special focus on Years 7 and 8 from disadvantaged backgrounds. We target schools and after school groups in deprived areas and work with teachers to identify participants who are not fitting in, lacking in confidence, at risk of bullying and/or exclusion and school refusers.
Participants access critically acclaimed musicians, theatre directors, writers, actors, and dancers who deliver workshops that combine music with other artforms. By giving participants access to a younger generation of multi-disciplinary artists who are part of a burgeoning live London scene, participants will explore a diversity of art forms and be given an opportunity to find their artistic ‘voice’ as well as develop important transferable skills that are not fully valued as part of their daily experience at school i.e. Creativity, Confidence, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking.
This grant will enable us to leverage further funding to increase our delivery partners from five to seven schools/youth organisations with at least 1 in Birmingham, and reach 5,000 disadvantaged children and young people through a series of performances, assemblies and workshops. (an increase from 4,000).
Why is this programme important?
AYG is our response to recent changes in the education system leading to the introduction of the EBaac (which contains no arts subjects) and an average 8% budget cut in schools across the UK. As more schools adopt the EBaac and respond to cuts, the arts are gradually being squeezed out of the curriculum and after school programmes. This risks a two-tier system where those from underprivileged backgrounds will be deprived access to a creative education and the key skills that such an education fosters such as creativity and confidence – skills that are crucial for young people to thrive in and adapt to the rapid-paced change of 21st century society.
Additionally, the teachers at our partnering schools have reported that soft skills teaching has also been squeezed out of the curriculum as they have to focus their efforts on supervising class work. This is turn is nurturing impossible aspirations for perfection and undermining pupils’ confidence to take risks. They said that “we are not raising independent thinkers in schools” and “students are afraid to take risks and make mistakes”.
Their concerns mirror those of the schools inspectorate (OfSTED), The Education Select Committee and the Sutton Trust who are particularly concerned by the detrimental impact that these changes have on the disadvantaged pupils targeted by AYG.
Is this your first time delivering something like this?
Between 2015 – 2017 we delivered two pilot projects at Corelli College and Plumstead Manor, Greenwich. In 2015 The School Census of Royal Greenwich reported that 58% of Plumstead Manor and 63% of Corelli College students were from among the bottom 20% of most deprived areas in England.
During our pilot phase we reached over 3,000 secondary school students through our interactive jazz installations and workshops. Overall, 57% of participants were from BAME backgrounds; 46% were on Pupil Premiums/Free School Meals; and 15% had Special Educational Needs. We delivered 108 hours of workshops designed and led by 9 workshop leaders trained in jazz, acting, directing, creative writing and movement. We designed and built 4 interactive jazz installations and provided 4 CPD opportunities for teachers.
In 2016 we recruited an MA student intern from Birkbeck University for six months to improve our monitoring and evaluation systems. During this period she measured that 90% of participants saw themselves as being creative and felt more confident in themselves. Approximately 80% said they tried something new, felt more confident in expressing their ideas to the group and enjoyed working with others. 75% of the teachers surveyed said that the students improved ‘a great deal’ in dealing with fear, improvisation, listening, leadership and teamwork.
In 2017 we secured three new partners: Thomas Tallis School, Greenwich; Town Hall & Symphony Hall Birmingham with whom we have had an ongoing relationship as Abram was one of their Associate Artists; and Hackney Empire to enable us to expand into another London borough. We have also begun to develop relationships with Greenwich, Hackney and Birmingham Music Services/Hubs to work with them on diversifying their music offer.
“I feel like I can show my feelings more during this project, especially while acting and reflecting on people’s performance… I used to hate art but, after doing the project, I like it because I can be more creative and being more creative can help me in other subjects as well as art and I’ve got better in all of the arts.” – AYG Participant 2016-2017
How can I find out more about it?
We have our own dedicated Tumblr page where you can keep up to date with our latest workshops.
Is this a project I could support as an individual?
Absolutely! Our individual supporters are called Trailblazers. They generally tend to make a monthly contribution to the Abram Wilson Foundation, helping us to ensure that young people with fewer opportunities get the chance to enjoy all the benefits and magic the arts can bring.
Through a regular donation our Trailblazers also champion some of the best and brightest up and coming musicians around, helping them forge a sustainable career as a full-time artist, which includes supporting them in becoming workshop leaders for the next generation.
In return, they join a close-knit creative community of inspiring supporters, young people and artists. They meet some incredible people, are acknowledged on our website, and receive regular personal emails and updates from us. These include invites and exclusive offers to some exciting and special gigs and events.
You can find out more about signing up as a Trailblazer here.