Our artist Career Development Programme turns 1!

Over the last seven years we’ve been inspired by Abram to build a cohort of up and coming artists who remain engaged with the Foundation throughout their careers. They’re paying it forward by acting as role models, mentors and educators. In 2018 we formally launched our Career Development Programme, to support some of these talented musicians further, through:

• Two years of ongoing strategic support to help build sustainable full-time professional careers, including access to industry professionals and one-to-one mentoring and coaching
• Live performances to showcase their work
• Opportunities to develop as educators, helping lead our arts education schools programme.

Our 2018-2020 cohort of uber-talented artists is: trumpet-player, KOKOROKO band-leader and visual artist Sheila Maurice-Grey; composer, arranger, band-leader of Mercury-nominated SEED Ensemble and alto saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi; musician and co-founder of award-winning jazz night and venue Church of Sound Spencer Martin; and alto-saxophonist and Barbican-Associate Artist and dancer Tyrone Isaac-Stuart.

I caught up with Fred Bolza at Tileyard in London’s King’s Cross creative hub, to chat about his integral support for the programme and its story so far. Fred is our Chair of Trustees and former Sony Music VP of Strategy.

Jennie: What have been your highlights of the first official year of our Career Development Programme?

Jennie: Can you describe some of the needs of the four artists we’ve supported over the last year and what we’ve offered?

Fred: They’re all obviously individuals with their own diverse projects, but from an overarching perspective what connects them is they are vital creative energetic forces that want to make things happen. We’ve offered some shaping and direction of that energy to help them move themselves further onwards towards realising their hopes and dreams. A lot of that is marrying up the need for strategy and structure with their specific needs. For example, is it that you need a lawyer to look over a contract? Do you need to think about these five things? It’s also been about understanding them as individuals and helping connect them with the kind of partners that can really become part of their extended music family. We’ve sat and we’ve listened and we’ve added to that energy of youth some degree of wisdom and experience and a network of connections.

Jennie: If someone is watching this who wants to or is currently trying to become a professional musician, what would your advice to them be?

Jennie: And what do you think makes the AWF Career Development Programme unique?

Jennie: Finally, can you tell us why you support the Abram Wilson Foundation?

As we move into the programme’s second year, we can’t wait to see what Cassie, Sheila, Spencer and Tyrone achieve. Plus we’ll continue to get feedback from the artists themselves, to ensure it’s giving them and the musicians of the future the support they need – watch this space!

Why not read more about the impact we’ve had and the artists we support through our career development programme? And join AWF as a Trailblazer (our friends and members scheme) to help us support the musicians of the future?