Paving the way for new partnership working

Manchester Beacon Recognition Awards 2011 Winner

New Partnership “Music Label as Partnership”

Youth Village Limited and the

Contemporary Arts Department at Manchester Metropolitan University

A new partnership between a community organisation “The Youth Village Limited” in Hulme and the Department of Contemporary Arts at MMU Cheshire has already attracted a recognition award at the beginning of its collaborative activities. The Manchester Beacon Recognition Award recognises the complex nature of forging community partnerships between communities and learning organisations. The Beacons Project is managed by the National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) and is a national university network devoted to recognising, rewarding and building capacity for public engagement.

 Manchester Beacon Presentation

The Youth Village Limited, a social enterprise led by Tony Wright, is based at the Hulme Hippodrome in Manchester and has embarked on a regeneration project for the area using culture, creativity and heritage as drivers. The Youth Village Limited is restoring the 110 year old Hulme Hippodrome to its former Music Hall glory (The Beatles have played there) whilst making it a cultural and community hub in the local area and beyond.

The Department of Contemporary Arts at MMU Cheshire, with educational provision in music, popular music, music production, theatre, drama and writing has a long history and experience of community engagement in the Cheshire area, specifically with organisations such as the Wishing Well and OCEAN. Community arts are part of the department’s curriculum as well as part of its research portfolio. DCA students gain employability skills by working together with the relevant communities, and the impact in the South and East Cheshire area has been significant. The collaboration with The Youth Village Limited and the Hulme Hippodrome will allow the department to extend its community arts activities into the Manchester area.

These activities in community engagement are long term and sustainable with students studying community arts as part of their curriculum, having lecturing staff who have community arts as part of their research portfolio, having support staff that directly have a remit to reach communities and bring contemporary arts to wider audiences and whose activities in outreach have continually attracted external funding (Heritage Lottery, Arts Council, Arts Awards, etc)

Carola Boehm, Head of the DCA: “The aim of this specific project within the partnership is to bring communities with a common interest together – in this case music enterprise – and thus be able to form sustainable and long-term activities involving young people from both organisations being supported to take the lead in developing their own music related enterprises, such as a community owned music label.”

The project team, which includes Tony Wright from The Youth Village Limited, and from MMU Cheshire Carola Boehm, Ornette Clennon and Joanne Brew-Butler, a third year community arts student, look forward for individuals at various different stages of their learning journeys to be involved:

There might be young adults who are interested in being supported to bring their entrepreneurial/creative ideas to a professional level

MMU Cheshire has students, who – in the roles of producers, sound engineers, facilitators, or entrepreneurial “mentors” – are interested in gaining experience of working with music groups in the context of an enterprise

MMU Cheshire has experienced students, postgraduates and staff, who – in the role of community arts practitioners – support the learning, coordination and formation of sustainable community partnerships of this type

The Youth Village Limited have staff and volunteers, who – with their experience and knowledge in the rich heritage of relevant communities – can mentor members of the project and ensure that this project keeps its momentum, is sustained over a long time basis, and develops social capital

The collaboration benefits both partners and under several aspects that can be described in terms of

  • Widening participation (MMU)
  • Employability skills (MMU, The Youth Village Limited)
  • Entrepreneurial skills (MMU, The Youth Village Limited)
  • Creative Partnerships (MMU, The Youth Village Limited)
  • Community Engagement as part of academic enterprise (MMU)
  • Community Engagement as part of Community Development (The Youth Village Limited)
  • Community Arts (MMU, The Youth Village Limited)
  • Access to Learning (The Youth Village Limited)

The activities also allow new research activities to be generated; focussing on contemporary and performance arts based community development. Ornette Clennon, who initiated the partnership and who is a community arts practitioner in the department at Cheshire: “In other words, our partnership with The Youth Village Limited will help us find new ways to develop transformational partnerships that can be sustained over long periods of time and that create additional value for communities. Our partnership with Youth Village generates research activity in the area of community arts/community development using practice-based and practice-as-research methodologies, of which the department is renowned for.”

Both MMU and The Youth Village Limited have recently become recognised Arts Awards centres. Thus the partnership is able to provide participants with Bronze, Silver and Gold Arts Awards, recognised by UCAS (Gold 35 points), allowing creative leadership skills to facilitate entry into Higher Education.

A further exciting development is the addition of a creative Industry partner. “Modern English”, a social media company with a longstanding experience in the music industry, is joining the partnership interested to be involved in community partnerships that are based on supporting emerging creative talents. Their role as “industry mentors” will be immensely valuable to the groups of students and young people devising their own enterprises.