The Wokingham Paper

Awards Maestros please! New arts grants revealed

The international street concert managed by YES events

A TRUST that has been helping youngsters make music has been awarded more than £750,000 in the second round of Arts Council coronavirus grants.

Berkshire Maestros, which has been providing music lessons and orchestral opportunities for children since 1982, was one of a number of diverse groups who have been helped by the Culture Recovery Fund.

In all, £76 million was announced on Saturday, including £2.2 million for 10 organisations across Berkshire.

Other recipients include Woodley based SFL Group, which is to receive £242,827, and Wokingham-based Yes Events Ltd, which has been earmarked for £194,527.

Reading-based visual arts group Jelly will receive £63,170, while The Jazz Cafe at the Madejski Stadium, which works with young people to support them with creating their own original music, will receive £55,000.

There are also grants to Windsor-based Birdsong Productions (£54,000) and Newbury-based Zippos Circus, which will receive £628,986.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and Arts Council England said that in total 588 cultural and creative organisations have been helped with this tranche of grants and more will be on their way.

It aims to help organisations create work and performances, and plan for reopening.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This is more vital funding to protect cultural gems across the country, save jobs and prepare the arts to bounce back.

“These awards build on our commitment to be here for culture in every part of the country.”

And Hedley Swain, area director South East for Arts Council England, said: “We’re very pleased to be able to support a further 63 organisations across the South East of England, which will share £8.2 million, through Round 2 of the Culture Recovery Fund: Grants.

“The investment will help them to navigate the immediate challenges that are ahead, as well as supporting their plans for 2021.”

The team at Jelly said that the funding would stabilise its future and mean it can reopen in March next year.

Kate Powell said: “It’s very difficult to articulate how we feel about this announcement. We are proud, relieved, excited, fit to burst and hugely humbled all at the same time but most of all we are so very thankful.

“There has never been more of a need for creative thinking and we will endeavour to elevate and support all artists, young, old, professional and part time. Everyone is an artist and we are, and always will be, a creative community enriched by the people we meet.”

Staff at Wokingham-based YES Events are delighted with their grant.

The company has staged the International Street Concert and specialise in lighting, sound, staging and video.

Through their work, YES facilitate the opportunity for a range of genres including but not limited to; artist-led animation, interactive and immersive arts, festivals including light festivals, participatory events and installations, community events such as dance festivals, international and local music celebrations, Fringe Festivals including poetry readings, live literature, storytelling, spoken word, experimental music, theatre tours and family theatre.

Their work includes the commemorative illuminations of Grenfell Tower. Working with the residents and bereaved families to design a set of illuminations for the ‘Green For Grenfell’ project. In July, YES worked with residents and Reading Borough Council to install a commemorative illumination within the Forbury Gardens, following alleged attacks in which three people died.

This illumination was supplied free of charge by YES in order to show solidarity with the local community and provide an open opportunity for all to reflect and remember those who were lost.

Tom Chennells, Yes Events’ managing director, said: “Our company has been based in Wokingham for seven years and the majority of our staff are local to the town and surrounding areas.

“This funding enables us to continue delivering on fantastic projects for our clients, both locally and nationally, whilst securing the futures of our vital staff whose unique skills and knowledge of our industry are irreplaceable.

“Like many others, the whole events sector is still very much in a difficult place as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, with many businesses like ours only being able to open in very small percentages; with this in mind, we’re under no illusions as to how incredibly lucky we are to have been granted this essential funding to enable us to continue our work.”

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