The Aspire Programme is an English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) initiative, made possible by a grant from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Help Musicians.
The Aspire Programme aims to provide professional and structured development primarily for emerging English folk music artists to help them become more equipped to manage a career as a professional artist. The 2013/14 programme initially comprised a development conference, one to one mentoring, residential bursaries and professional support. With the support of Help Musicians we were able to augment the programme, by providing a dedicated 2 day expansion course focused around performance development.
The incentive for this whole programme was to give additional support to some of Folk Rising artists, over and above a 20 minute showcase platform. We wanted to provide information and development opportunities that was about the artist as an individual business and not simply focus our support on the creative elements of being an artist.
With this in mind, the key component of the Aspire Programme is the development conference which enabled us to pilot a weekend event focusing on organisational support while providing opportunities for networking and peer learning.
The invaluable funding of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation enabled us to run this programme for 18 months and its outcomes will inform the future development of areas of our Artists’ Development Programme.
As a pilot programme, 25 artists were invited to attend the conference and a further five artists were invited to take part in mentoring, and Creative Artists Residencies were open to all artists to apply.
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