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2020, a year like no other

2020 has been like no other year, and all of us have had to cope with adapting to a new way of living and working. We know that the effect on many of us has been profound, with sharp increases in wellbeing and mental health issues. Our resilience and will power have been tested and no more than with the young Londoners that Sound Connections has the privilege to work with, and who inform everything that we do. I have been consistently amazed at the way that Wired4Music, our network of 16-25s have creatively and courageously responded to the pandemic.

It only seems a short time ago that they took over Battersea Arts Centre for ‘Wired4Music Presents 2020’ in February. We had roundtable chats covering songwriting and producing, working in radio, and how to be a creative freelancer. These were followed by workshops on how to make money from your music and how to brand yourself as an artist, plus a series of 1-1 demo sessions with top A&Rs. The day culminated in live performances (remember those?!), and an open mic slot where Wired4Music members showcased their own, original, music. As with everything that the network does, it was completely put together by a team of Wired4Music producers who curated all of the content and ran the day.

Then lockdown happened, and we quickly shut the office down, relocated to our kitchen tables and bedrooms, and began to think about what we could do to continue supporting the young people we work with. Listening and responding to need is at the core of Sound Connections, so we took time to talk not only to the young people that we work with, but our community of musicians and music leaders. Within four weeks we had repurposed our programmes for the ‘new normal’.

As Liz Coomb, Programme Manager for Children and Young People, put it, “We offered a plethora of ways for our community to connect from zoom webinars, phone calls, support sessions, mentoring, networking, using different platforms to connect in different ways and inviting them to share their experiences with us in ways that were appropriate to them: articles; vlogs; blogs; live and pre-recorded sessions. We let our community know we were there for them, and we worked with them to develop, review, enhance and enrich our offer.”

At the heart of it, we were exploring ways to support our network of young people to combat isolation, improve their sense of wellbeing and keep on being creative The Wired4Music team worked flat out delivering webinars, advice and guidance sessions, acting as mentors, providing financial support and over 100- online paid opportunities for young Londoners.

Rather than pulling back on activity we launched the first ever Youth Voice Week for the creative and cultural sectors at the beginning of October, to accompany the launch of our new Youth Voice & Participation Handbook Youth Voice Week was delivered across a variety of digital platforms, with over 200 practitioners and organisations from music, arts and heritage taking part. As ever, the event was co-produced with young people, who acted as presenters, panellists and producers across the week. It was an astonishing achievement which attracted both a national and international audience, with equality, diversity and inclusion at its core.

However, the culmination of this very unique year has to be the fact that Wired4Music is now 10 years old. I was fortunate to be at the launch event at City Hall in 2010, having just accepted the role of Director at Sound Connections. What I heard and saw that evening still holds true today – passionate, committed, creative and enthusiastic young people who want and need to be heard striving to make their mark on the world. We need Wired4Music, and all young Londoners, now more than ever. You can find out much more about them here, and if you are between 16 and 25, and live or work in London then please join us.

I’ll leave the last words to Estee Bokuma Lenda, Wired4Music member and Sound Connections trustee:

The highlight of 2020 for me has to be how much resilience the Sound Connections and Wired4Music team have shown. It’s been a difficult and unpredictable last couple of months for the world but the team have shown courage, compassion and have been able to quickly adapt to new ways of working, communicating, hosting events and connecting with our community…I’m really proud of the team who show up day in, day out as excellent role models within our sector.”

Philip Flood, Director

 

 

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