Investing in the Future: Reflections from Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation
Every year, PRS Foundation organises a Talent Development Conference so that the many music organisations we support have the chance to meet, exchange ideas and dream up new responses to the challenges and opportunities faced by UK music creators. This event also feeds into our continued development as a flexible and independent funding body because the discussions we curate with diverse artists, programmers, producers and CEOs give us the chance to listen and respond to the latest trends, needs and priorities which require our understanding and investment.
This year we focused on just one aspect of the work we support – the early stage investment we make in composers and songwriters as they take their first steps towards a more established career in music. Throughout this exploration, my attention was drawn to some recurring themes and core values that resonate with our interests at PRS Foundation.
First, in our discussion about moving from education into the profession, PATHWAYS and the tension between open and closed spaces was a big question for the composers and education bodies who joined us.
In our debate about accessing talented artists from beyond education, COMMUNITY was highlighted as key; this could be amongst recipients of our Momentum Fund as much as the artists Future Bubblers is reaching in record stores and beyond the mainstream in cities with less formal provision.
RELATABILITY is another word that bounced around on social media throughout the day. This came from songwriter and Girls I Rate founder, Carla Marie Williams who questioned how relatable many organisations’ offer is to the broad range of people we’re not reaching.
And finally, our discussion about music in city planning raised questions about SUSTAINABILITY and SHARED RESPONSIBILITY; these priorities should be core to any talent development plan, particularly if the industry, government and other funders are working together towards the same goals.
Throughout our day at Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, the involvement of artists in our discussions was crucial to the relevance and quality of debate. This included the voice of music creators who are shattering the conservatoire’s definition of what a composer can be and artists who’ve taken control, defining their next steps in their own terms and helping other music creators along the way.
A final point that wasn’t taken for granted is the suitability of Cardiff as a home for these reflections. The strong and longstanding relationship we have at PRS Foundation with Welsh Government, Arts Council of Wales and Wales Arts International has enabled us to invest together in many talented Welsh music creators from Cardiff and beyond. The Council’s commitment to establishing Cardiff as the UK’s first Music City was central to our discussions and the Leader of Cardiff City Council’s understanding of what’s at the heart of the matter when it comes to talent development enabled us to launch in to the day’s debates with a very clear and inspirational mandate in the back of our minds. In Councillor Huw Thomas’ words:
“You cannot lift people’s aspirations by limiting their horizons. Music is a national utility for the soul which requires investment.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Vanessa Reed, CEO, PRS Foundation
Reflections from our Theme Experts
Alongside Vanessa’s reflections are blog posts from our three Theme Experts who followed the conversations and debates during the conference and reported back at the end of the day…