Thursday, June 13, 2024
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Support for early career promoters is vital | IQ Magazine

Independent promoters play a vital role in the success of the music sector. Often unsung and under-supported, promoters are helping to unearth and champion emerging talent in all genres, and their work supports local, regional and national talent pipelines from the grassroots up.

For many years, PRS Foundation has supported promoters through funding for organisations, and individuals, including through our Open Fund, the PPL Momentum Accelerator programme, Keychange, POWER UP and New Music Plus. And promoters working at all levels can apply for various funds through UK Arts Councils, Youth Music and other Trusts & Foundations.

However, it’s quite clear from successful programmes run by organisations we support, and through consultation with the live sector and funding partners that emerging promoters require more funding and targeted support in ways which will bolster grassroots scenes.

It’s for that reason we’re so pleased to have announced The Early Career Promoter Fund, supported by Arts Council England and DCMS.

The brand new fund recognises the integral role promoters play in grassroots music, and offers grants of up to £3,500 to support the booking, programming and promotion of gigs, concerts, club nights, showcases, tours and other performances; alongside skills building and wraparound support which will help early career promoters to build sustainable careers and to build their capacity and networks.

“While the music industry can celebrate record levels of income on a macro level, within the grassroots scene, any sign of ‘trickle-down’ impact is negligible”

Between now and March 2025, we’re excited to receive applications from hundreds of promoters working across England, and we know the impact of this grants programme will be huge. Within that period, we’re expecting to fund over 200 promoters which we expect will enable grantees to book and promote over 400 events, programming hundreds of artists, DJs, bands and groups while ensuring exciting, diverse new music reaches audiences in towns and cities across the country.

It’s no secret that there are many barriers facing people who want to put on live events, not least financial barriers at a moment in time where costs have risen to unsustainable levels.

While the music industry can celebrate record levels of income on a macro level, within the grassroots scene, any sign of ‘trickle-down’ impact is negligible. This has been quite rightly reported in IQ and beyond, with sector bodies such as Music Venues Trust (MVT), Independent Venues Week (IVW), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Association of
Independent Promoters (AIP), The Musicians’ Union, The Featured Artists’ Coalition (FAC), LIVE and many others doing an incredible job of highlighting the difficulties being faced within the live sector and within local and regional music scenes.

It is important policy-makers, funders and industry execs are fully aware of these issues, and we join calls for more support and more joined up thinking to address these issues.

The Early Career Promoter Fund is designed to address some of the financial barriers – helping promoters to do what they do best – booking and promoting exciting music, supporting artists and DJs to reach and engage audiences, and helping to develop scenes.

“I’m excited about the prospect of supporting more promoters and addressing complex needs to bolster scenes”

Outside of financial barriers, we are aware of the need for emerging and small-scale promoters to access and build relationships with venues, festivals, clubs, national promoters, booking agents and industry bodies. Building a peer-to-peer network and enabling more connections will be central to the success of the Fund, and whether included in grant request amounts or offered through the wraparound support PRS Foundation will be delivering, we’re keen to fully understand skills gaps and to work collaboratively with the industry to address them.

With extensive experience through programmes including Keychange, Women Make Music, The Oram Awards and POWER UP, the Foundation and the creators and organisations we support are acutely aware of the need to address underrepresentation across the music sector. The Early Career Promoter Fund aims to ensure more support is going to a diverse range of promoters. And we will proactively encourage and help grantees to programme a diverse range of artists and music nationwide.

And for those who are already more established, Arts Council England’s Supporting Grassroots Music Fund is available to promoters, venues, clubs, festivals, rehearsal and recording studios.

I’m excited about the prospect of supporting more promoters and addressing complex needs to bolster scenes. We’re looking forward to the first deadline (13 June) and to sharing news of the first round of grantees in the summer. And we encourage the sector to get behind the initiative – with paid external advisor roles (to help us to score and select grantees), and interest in bringing in experts to help us to upskill the promoters we work with.

We know that supporting a wide range of independent promoters will bring about positive change within the live and wider music sector. More inclusive, sustainable and exciting scenes benefit us all. So please reach out to the team if you’re interested in getting involved.


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