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“Music is a form of communication, a way of expressing ideas and sharing emotions.  If music is not played for a public it does not fulfill the totality of its function.   And, for a music student, playing for a public is an essential part of his or her development as an artist.  The musician needs to experiment with this communication, both as a means of evaluating progress, and for the pleasure of giving something valuable to others.   Performing also helps motivate students to improve their playing.  Having a concert programme helps them to better organise their practise, setting goals and focusing their energy.  As well as the opportunity to attend concerts of varied musical styles and settings, students can be inspired by sharing the stage with professional musicians.  For all these reasons, performing is a crucial part of developing as a musician.”

Juan Gabriel Rojas, Sistema Norwich’s Musical Director

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The Brighter Futures Fund

The Silk Purse Fund

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The Performance Project enabled us to develop concert and performance opportunities for young people taking part in Sistema Norwich (and young people in Norfolk more generally).  The main funder was Arts Council England (through the National Lottery Grants for the Arts), though other funding was a vital part of both matching those funds and extending the project for 6 months, including support from Norfolk and Norwich Chamber Music, Norwich Freeman's Charity, the Brighter Futures Fund and Silk Purse Fund, Tesco Bags of Help and Virgin Money Foundation Heart of the Community.  The project meant we delivered 12 concerts between June 2018 and October 2019, and a further two between October 2019 and March 2020.

The project enabled us to:

  • Develop a regular and year round concert series

  • Develop the audience for Sistema in Norwich concerts

  • Develop the use of local venues (Octagon Chapel, The Norwich Playhouse, Epic Studios, Open, St Andrews Hall, etc.)

  • Develop exciting collaborations with professional musicians and music groups

  • Offer attractive concerts that build on different models of performance including 'side by side' with professional musicians and young person led

  • Develop programming for and by young people

  • Commission new repertoire

  • Develop young people's leadership of the ensembles

  • Offer opportunities to a wider group of young people in Norfolk (and beyond) to perform

As such, the project extended many of the impacts we are looking to have on young people's musical and social development.  

Concerts mixed young people’s performances with those of professional and semi-professional musicians, offering the audience a high quality musical experience, where young people are not only performing but experiencing a range of music programming and performance themselves. 

The project:

  • Engaged 300 children and young people in performance work

  • Worked with 47 professional artists

  • Reached an audience of over 4,000 people

  • Developed 8 new pieces of music and shows

  • Delivered 14 concerts, in a range of venues

  • Delivered 60 education and training sessions

Our evaluation established that the project has offered considerable impact:

  • It has raised the bar in terms of what we expect from our concerts

  • It has created a culture of quality around the orchestras, which has increased aspiration, both for children and the programme as a whole

  • It has raised the bar in terms of what audiences come to expect from our concerts, increasing concert attendance

  • It has increased our skills in a number of key areas - concert production, arranging for the orchestra, commissioning music, working with professional collaborators

  • It has enabled us to develop a model for working with professional collaborators, which will inform future work

  • It has helped us develop a model for how we work with tutors in concerts in such a way that raises aspirations, supports the quality of the event and builds a trajectory for participating young people

  • It has supported sustainability, by increasing the engagement of young people, supporters and staff, along with staff commitment

  • It has significantly improved our marketing, marketing reach and media engagement, with implications not only for our concerts and events but for the visibility of the programme more broadly.

We are now looking at how we can continue to build on and maintain this work, to draw in more funds and make a further bid to Arts Council England.

Film from the project concerts can be found on the MEDIA page HERE.

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