The Music Works

The Music Works is one of six organisations from across the south west that have been successful in securing Challenge Fund Investment from Real Ideas Organisation in the latest round of the partnership investment programme to support and encourage innovation in cultural education for young people, receiving a share of this year’s £270,000 pot.
The Challenge Fund was created by RIO, working with Arts Council England, and provides leveraged investment to support organisations, commissioners and partnerships that are unlocking new investment in cultural education activity for young people.This year, the Challenge Fund looked for proposals that demonstrated an evidenced need to support high quality arts for children and young people, with a particular emphasis on health and wellbeing.The Music Works (formerly Gloucestershire Music Makers) is a charity whose primary mission is to transform lives through creative music-making. They aim to ensure that everyone, regardless of their background or situation, has the chance to make music. But, more than that, they use music to empower people to reach their potential, in music, in learning and in life.All of their work is under-pinned by their core value of inclusion. In addition they are driven by:
  • A person-centred and led approach
  • Quality in our delivery
  • Maximising impact by developing sustainable and scaleable models
There are over 400 young offenders in Gloucestershire with an associated cost of over £20 million. There are many more children and young people who are considered at risk of offending who are supported through the county’s Youth Support Team.A review of the use of music to reduce offending rates (Youth Music, 2011) highlights the potential of music to motivate behaviour change, however, they point out that research has lacked rigour. The Music Works has worked with vulnerable young people (including young offenders) for many years. They have also seen transformations in these young people’s lives but to date they have been poor at documenting this in a systematic way.The music works project will work with Gloucestershire’s Youth Support – Youth Justice Team to co-create a programme that uses music to engage young people who are offending or at risk of offending and support them to thrive, prosper and ultimately move away from the criminal justice system.Through this pilot work they want to “prove” the efficacy of music in producing sizeable cashable savings with a view to establishing a commissioning market.While this is initially a county programme, with 600,000 young offenders nationally, it has huge potential for national roll out and would play well to a social investment model.3The Music Works will work with the youth justice team to identify young people at risk from across the county. Delivery will take place within their three community studios in Gloucester, Cheltenham or Forest of Dean. They also have a peripatetic team who can work in other settings or at home if needed.They will co-design the programme with the youth justice team from Youth Support as well as young people from their targeted cohort (The Music Works is the lead body for youth voice in music in Gloucestershire).The project will run for two years as a feasibility pilot that will allow them to develop, test and evaluate the intervention to determine the gains, model and appropriate financing route to take it out to the wider commissioning market. They envisage 3 months development, 18 months delivery working with three cohorts and 3 months for evaluation.


The Music Works would expect to continue to expand their use of Arts Award. It is already proving a powerful tool in enabling young people who are outside mainstream education to achieve meaningful accreditation that is for all young people rather than associated with low academic achievement.