Published date 17 August 2022

First rung on creative career ladder for young people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire

Mark Coates (CEO of Creative Youth Network), the students participating in a three-day music making course, Metro Mayor Dan Norris, Rosie Fenlon (Head of Fundraising and Communications) and Kathleen Fitzpatrick (course lead)

Harmonies rang out across Creative Youth Network on Silver Street, Bristol, as Metro Mayor Dan Norris popped in to see how a £10,000 cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority he leads has supported the region’s next generation of creative young people.

The Metro Mayor met some of Bristol and South Gloucestershire’s budding melody makers as he toured the much-loved charity’s flagship youth centre, The Station. Mayor Norris was even treated to a performance from over 20 talented 12-to-17-year-olds participating on a three-day summer music-making course.

Before watching the debut performance from the teenage creatives, the Metro Mayor met CEO Mark Coates who explained how the Creative Business Grant from the Combined Authority has helped develop the youth group's new programmes providing skills, training and employment opportunities for over 320 young people in and around Bristol and South Gloucestershire to pursue a career in the arts.

73 per cent of over 2,500 previous participants in programmes at the award-winning charity have gone on to get paid jobs, with 22 per cent getting placements at some of the West of England’s biggest and best creative groups including Bristol Beacon, Arnolfi and Watershed.

Mr Norris said he was delighted the Combined Authority grant funding meant deserving young people could get a helping hand onto the first rung of the ladder in their successful careers in the “world-leading” West of England creative industries. He said: “It’s a pleasure to meet such enthusiastic Bristol and South Glos young people – their energy is infectious, and I can see they are going to make a real impact in the arts. I’m so pleased a £10,000 cash injection from the West of England Combined Authority I lead means even more creative West of Englanders will get the opportunities they need to go and thrive. Creativity works in the West of England - we are a region of innovation and imagination, with a truly world-leading creative industry sector, and I’m proud to back the creative talent here”.

Speaking about the visit, Creative Youth Network CEO Mark Coates commented: “We were honoured to have Metro Mayor Dan Norris see our Music Making Summer Course in action at The Station, and hear from some of our young people about why building their skills and finding out more about the music industry is so important to them. We are hugely grateful for funding from the West of England Combined Authority which has come at a crucial time to help some of the young people most affected by the pandemic. It developed our approach of bringing high-quality creative practice together with youth work, unlocking further funding as well as helping us reach more young people who are bursting with potential but who lack opportunity to start careers in the creative industries”.

These courses and the wider creative programmes at Creative Youth Network offer creative work fused with youth work and specialist professionals from the arts to bring programmes to people from Bristol and South Gloucestershire who traditionally struggle to access the arts.

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