The Rio Ferdinand Foundation and Warner Music have extended their partnership for a further nine months in 2022. The news follows a successful three-month pilot programme to engage young people in skills-based programmes linked to the music industry in London and Manchester.
This new phase of the programme will see it extended to communities in Leeds and Northern Ireland, offering a programme of activity, skills and employability that meets the Government’s “levelling up” agenda in some of the country’s most disadvantaged communities.
A new collaboration with Warner Music Ireland will also see the programme extended to the Republic of Ireland.
Priscilla Kotey, Senior Vice President, Warner Music Ireland, said: “I’m so delighted we’re able to expand this partnership to benefit young people in the Republic of Ireland. The results of the pilot in the UK have been hugely encouraging, so I can’t wait to see what we can achieve here.”
In November 2021 Greater Manchester library played host to a youth-led showcase event, the pinnacle of the pilot programme. The event was a showcase of music, spoken word, and film.
Reflecting on the event, Gary Stannett, CEO of Rio Ferdinand Foundation, said: “It was great to be part of the event, and along with community partners, experience the young people’s projects. I recall one young person sharing with me how the programme had given her confidence, newfound skills and a love of music, and that, with support from the foundation and Warner Music, she is now looking forward to exploring how she can get a job in music in the future.”
The extended programme will offer not only skills-based projects, but workplace experiences, mentoring and major careers events to inspire and support young people from working class and minority communities and other under-represented groups to consider careers in the industry. The aim is to promote greater representation and diversity within the music business itself.
The expanded collaboration will underpin an emerging three-year partnership between the two organisations designed to offer skills and employability training within the music and entertainment sector across the UK and Ireland, with a specific focus on those communities that need investment and opportunities.
Rio Ferdinand said: “We’re proud that our work with Warner Music is being extended to reach more people and from more communities. We know that right now young people need support, investment and opportunities more than ever and this collaboration with a major industry voice in Warner Music sets a standard for how partnerships like ours can offer young people the inspiration, skills and pathways so badly needed in so many parts of the UK and Ireland.”
Tony Harlow, CEO of Warner Music UK added: “Our partnership with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation is already helping us reach people we couldn’t go to before – we are learning from RFF how to move fast and effectively. The relationship is also helping us spread our support geographically and move towards a less metropolitan approach. I’m really pleased that Rio wanted to extend and expand our collaboration to reach more young people, and I hope this will be the first step in a continued programme. Our industry still has a long way to go before it’s demographics truly reflect those of music fans, but programmes like this are helping us to make a start towards real long-term change and help a whole group of people realise the music business can and will find homes for them.”