A new pilot programme, NEKO 18, has been launched by NEKO Trust to help build a sustainable future for music and live events and develop an at-risk generation of creative talent.
The free-to-enrol programme, supported by funders including Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund, is a response to research conducted over the last 18 months into the barriers facing those who wish to progress their career in music and live events. It has identified 18 early-career individuals with a diverse range of skills and experience to undertake a three-month programme of professional development.
Between September and November 2021, the cohort will benefit from knowledge sharing with peers and experienced industry professionals, shadowing and commissioning opportunities with resident and associated NEKO artists, focused creative retreats, and mentorship from programme ambassadors. NEKO 18 participants will also have the opportunity to achieve accreditation via the CLOCK Your Skills programme, which enables people to learn through work and be validated by sector experts.
The Induction Week, taking place from 6 – 10 September 2021, will see participants focus on the music and live events sector, including the history of recorded music and the importance of building your brand, whilst also taking time to reflect on how to better understand and manage mental health, with yoga sessions woven into the week’s itinerary. Across the three month period, the NEKO 18 will learn about music management, record labels, revenue streams, fanbase building, NFTs and future tech, and the live sector. The programme will also focus on the reality of being a freelancer in the sector, with sessions on debt management, accounting, negotiating day rates, understanding tax, building a business plan, fundraising, how to build a pitch deck, and networking – giving vital practical knowledge and skills to those looking to develop their career further.
The NEKO 18 – which includes artists, marketing professionals, graphic designers, music managers, producers and more – will be provided with free workspace in NEKO’s thriving cultural hub in Wandsworth, South West London, to progress their own ideas and collaborate with others on tailored creative opportunities. Overall, the programme will seek to improve an individual’s experience and skill set whilst giving them the confidence, knowledge and a network of like-minded creatives to direct their own career. At the end of the programme, the cohort may be able to apply for seed funding from NEKO to take their creative ideas to the next level, with continued business support and mentoring.
NEKO Trust is the music industry’s charity that supports early-career creatives; it was founded by live events professional and former MUSE Manager, Glen Rowe.
Speaking of the launch of the programme, NEKO Founder, Glen Rowe, said: “The need for the NEKO 18 programme is more important than ever following the last 18 months of challenge and despair for the music and live events sectors. It will allow young creatives and entrepreneurs with an idea and a collaborative nature, who may have been at risk of leaving the sector, to come together to benefit from building a network with like-minded professionals as well as mentors to guide their development. We have attracted some of the most talented, determined and passionate individuals committed to working in music and live events, with a view to safeguarding the future of the sector and levelling up opportunities to work within it.”
NEKO CEO and Creative Director, Mary Rose, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions, and workforce in a generation. It is vital that we attract and retain the talent we need to ensure the music and live events industry emerges better and more resilient. For NEKO, this is about creating equality of opportunity, so that people from all backgrounds can access, learn and progress within it. Our focus is on helping young people and early-career creatives develop the skills, knowledge and networks they need to have a successful career in music. I’m thrilled to welcome this company of 18 to our thriving cultural hub in Wandsworth at such an exciting time for the charity. They bring a diverse range of skills and experience as well as real entrepreneurial spirit. I would particularly like to thank Arts Council England for their support via the Culture Recovery Fund as this has helped make this scheme possible.”
Speaking about NEKO on the eve of their Download Festival performance, NEKO ambassadors, Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, highlighted the importance of the work being undertaken by NEKO: “A space like this [NEKO] is all encompassing; it allows everyone to do anything – to come and rehearse, to come and write, to come and record. A space like NEKO is as important as the Royal Albert Hall; without a space like this, you don’t have any artists that will ever perform there in the future.”
NEKO Ambassador and BBC Music Introducing Presenter – London, Jess Iszatt, added: “NEKO 18 is a wicked programme focusing on bringing the best out of people who are driven to succeed in music and live events. I can’t wait to see the artistic careers and business ideas from this diverse group of individuals rise to the next level, thanks to the mentoring, networking and experience-sharing that NEKO offers. It’s a unique opportunity for early-career creatives which I wish I had access to when I had first started out!”
NEKO 18 is the first education programme to emanate from NEKO Trust under the NEKO Futures umbrella. The charity is also currently working with Gallowglass, the leading events crewing company in the UK and Europe, to establish a new generation of production professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. Recruited by Gallowglass, a group of 20 young adults will learn about all aspects of event crewing and will spend time at NEKO being trained by working professionals in the fundamentals of Tour Management, Production Management, Live Sound and Backline. More details will be available in the coming weeks.