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Home > New Year message from PRS Foundation Chief Executive, Vanessa Reed

New Year message from PRS Foundation Chief Executive, Vanessa Reed

At PRS Foundation we invest in the future of music. We do that by enabling composers and songwriters of all backgrounds to make outstanding new music, realise their potential and reach audiences across the world. 2017 demonstrated why our focus on this goal has never been more crucial to UK musicians. Rising costs and visa restrictions meant that some of our most talented up and coming artists wouldn’t have been able to work internationally without our support whilst growing awareness of inequalities across the music industry confirmed the importance of our longstanding targeted investment in diverse music creators.

LIFE at SXSW by Thomas Jackson / TyneSight Photographic

Here’s how this translated into numbers:
•    4,005 applications received (compared with 3,205 in 2016)
•    40% of music creators supported were BAME
•    53% of our music creator grantees were sole female artists or mixed groups
•    561 grants awarded to the tune of over £3.3m
•    34% more music creators supported to showcase overseas at 37 industry festivals
•    87 grantees were nominated for major music industry awards with 22 winners

There are a few watersheds in this list – the gender balance of our grantees reached 50:50 three years earlier than planned, we gave more grants than ever before, significantly increased our impact overseas and even more of the artists we supported artists received awards and nominations in every music genre.

Other stand-out moments in 2017 include our first success with EU funding for our pioneering Keychange programme with a growing number of festivals from across Europe and beyond, our work in Parliament to raise awareness of the gender gap in music, the instrumental role we played in helping Chineke! to open the largest international showcase for classical music, the launch of the UK’s first writer-producer fund and our collaboration with Hull City of Culture to present composer residencies and a critically acclaimed weekend of new music enjoyed by thousands of Hull residents who hadn’t been to an event of this kind before.

None of this would have been possible without the growing range of inspirational partners who help us by giving funds, time, skills and ideas. This includes collecting society PPL which becomes a major supporter in 2018, Arts Council England and its counterparts from across the UK and Ireland, Department for International Trade, British Council, Spotify, Paul Hamlyn Foundation and many more to whom we are immensely grateful. Thanks to their support, and the match funding we’re leveraging from partners and grantees, every £1 invested by PRS is generating a further £4 for the people we fund.

Errollyn Wallen at the New Music Biennial at Hull 2017 by James Mulkeen

Partnership will continue to underpin much of our work in 2018. This kicks off on January 10th with our support of the first UK showcase to take place at New York’s Winter Jazzfest in collaboration with BBC Introducing and with a stellar line-up of UK jazz talent hosted by Gilles Peterson. This month we’ll also be assessing applications from across the UK to our network of Talent Development Partners which consists of over 30 organisations who play a crucial role in the nurturing of music creators at different stages in their careers. These music organisations receive support and work with us as a soundboard so that we can keep updating our priorities and understanding of any changes to the funding landscape.

In February, we’ll be collaborating with new partners from Canada on a very special UK launch of Keychange and later in the year we’ll be celebrating five years of Momentum – the first public-private fund for tipping point musicians which has funded 253 artists, 156 albums and 165 UK Tours and resulted in too many Mercury nominees and chart successes to mention. These are just a few highlights. Find out more by following us on all the relevant social media channels.

What we’ve learnt from running these targeted programmes brings me back to why our support was so needed last year. It’s a symptom of the social and economic climate as I mentioned before, but it’s also because the unapologetic focus of our talent development programmes is based on research and gaps in funding that were waiting to be addressed.

We’ve always known that the UK is home to the world’s most diverse and talented music creators. What we’ve learnt in 2017 is that investing in more of their futures isn’t hard once you become aware of what needs to change and once you make that change your goal.

Happy New Year!

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Shirley Manson, Vanessa Reed and Emily Haines