Feedback from Atseinio

Atseinio took place at the Utilita Arena in Cardiff on 21st February 2024. The day was part of the Summit Music Industry Conference, and brought together youth music organisations, music industry organisations, funders, and young musicians to discuss music development pathways in Wales.

The day included a keynote from Matt Griffiths from Youth Music, a panel discussion, Sharing the Knowledge breakout workshops on youth voice, parthnership working and equality and inclusion, and an afternoon roundtable discussion exploring journeys in music development in Wales.

Sharing the knowledge: Partnerships

Led by Canolfan Gerdd William Mathias, Caernarfon

Meinir Llwyd Roberts and Seren Jones reflected on the Canfod y Gân project which was in partnership with Gwynedd Council. They talked about some of the challenges and some of the successes they had experienced working in partnership. A wider discussion took place about partnership working across the delegates.

Key takeaways from the presentation and discussion were:

  • Finding the right person to partner with in an organisation can change everything
  • Partnering with councils can be very powerful – they can access funding you can’t
  • Make sure everyone discusses their expectations for the partnership – it’s really important to know what everyone wants to get out of the partnership
  • Partnership can enable access to expertise that you might not have in your own organisation
  • Partnership needs to be worked at – it’s not easy!
  • Communication is really important
  • Think outside your sector – who are the partners who could change the way you work?
  • Have empathy for your partners – sometimes they are the ones championing the work inside their own organisation!
Sharing the knowledge: Inclusion

Led by Grand Ambition, Swansea

Rich Thair and Michelle McTernan presented the Future Blood project which runs in Swansea and in Pontadawe. They explored the strategies they used to make the projects as inclusive as possible.

Key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Make it free
  • Provide resources/equipment
  • Make it totally youth-led
  • Make it a safe space
  • Prepare them for the project end. Teach them resilience/DIY skills
  • Swansea has a DIY culture! 
  • Use word of mouth
  • Don’t be afraid to fail
  • Ask YP what they need – they are the experts
  • Have fun with it
  • Strong partnerships are key to prevent silos
  • Need a dialogue with schools
  • Go to the YP – don’t expect them to come to you
  • Start with the music and the person.
  • Remember the social model of disability
  • We need more regional funding and long-term funding.
Sharing the Knowledge: Youth Voice Session

Led by: Music Theatre Wales

Michael McCarthy (Director), Jain Boon (project facilitator) and Rain Preece (participant and performer)

The Music Theatre Wales team reflected on their project ‘Perthyrn’ – a digital opera created by young people in partnership with Hijinx – and the integral role of youth voice in the project’s success.

Future Directions is a young people’s programme that explores how opera can become an expressive art form for people of all backgrounds and identities. Working in collaboration with professional artists, a cohort of neurodiverse young people worked together across a series of residencies to devise and make a new digital opera, exploring their ideas and learning from and inspiring each other and the supporting artists. 

Key takeaways and discussions from the team and people in the room: 

  • From the very first task on day 1, the young participants were co-creators in the space. They collectively made decisions on creating rules to follow, to create boundaries together that everyone owned. This laid the foundations for a collaborative working culture, and built a mutual respect and trust from the get go. 
  • Wrap around support for the participants was key to building a safe place where everyone was able to bring their own strengths to the table. Having Hijinx as a partner brought in the right expertise to enable this. 
  • Rain discussed how important the environment was, both culturally and physically, to influencing the themes of the piece. Having the space and the creative freedom to develop ideas organically resulted in a very cohesive and powerful piece around belonging in the world. It was also influenced by their geographical surroundings, e.g one of the residencies taking place in Aberystwyth; the sea and the beach became a strong visual motif in the digital opera. 
  • Michael McCarthy spoke about how this work is helping to influence MTW’s approach to the musical language of opera, and its possibilities. 
  • There was a discussion with the room around at what point as facilitators and arts organisations we should step away and let the young people take over and lead. Are we still needed at that point? This led to further discussion around co-creation and the importance of setting up the right environment to enable that process to happen organically.
Notes from the Roundtable discussion – Journeys in music development in Wales

Groups discussed barriers to music for young people in Wales and solutions. Each group was given a profile of a young person and explored their journey by making maps. At the end of the session everyone fed back on barriers and solutions. 

The barriers discussed were:

  • Not driving
  • Starting young – need education – can’t be in a music venue
  • Where to go? Where do you find help?
  • Gatekeeping
  • Location – no public transport – isolation – low population
  • Finance – socio-economic barrier
  • Lack of venues
  • Seasonal towns are hard
  • Access to equipment or a studio
  • Resistance from the local community
  • Finding local artists
  • Family support – is it in place?
  • Software
  • Confidence – anxiety

The solutions discussed were:

  • Sharing with peers
  • Enter music competitions
  • Start a website
  • Sign up for newsletters
  • Do an apprenticeship
  • Do a college course or a uni course
  • Connect to national organisations – Youth Music, Music Managers Forum, UK Music, BPI, AIM
  • Networking
  • Online courses
  • Shadow other promoters / managers
  • Research local suppliers
  • Make content to build profile
  • Finding things in your local area
  • Nurturing community
  • Finding funding
  • Just do it – make it happen
  • Community ask for better transport
  • Community online
  • Connect with local stakeholders – council, local charities
  • Welsh language – iaith cymreig
  • Use local knowledge
  • Get involved in school
  • Start under 18 nights to make somewhere to perform
  • Make a band – find people to collab with
  • Work with other charities
  • Find other work that is close to what you want to do
Key Take Aways
  • Community is key
  • The need to put the young person at the centre
  • Collaboration and face to face contact is key
  • Meeting and connecting with young people
  • That there is more support available and more people who care about music creation and youth than I thought – so that’s very hopeful 🙂
Topics for future meetings
  • Advertising and Marketing – creative ways of going about it
  • What’s on offer for young people at the cusp of not being young people
  • Young people as audiences – not everyone can or wants to be active but may love music
  • More young people running these events
  • Neurodiversity and music – accessibility – clubs / gigs are loud – could there be more inclusive ways of performing and promoting artists who can’t do the traditional route?

Find out more about Atsain Network meetings and when the next meeting is scheduled here.