After years searching for a place to create a live music venue and studio for young people in Gloucestershire the dream was close to a reality, then came the pandemic – and then something incredible happened.
It was almost a fairytale in the making pre-Covid 19 – The Music Works, a modest Gloucestershire charity with very little money supporting some of the county’s young people through music, was close to unveiling something really special.
That dream – which included a music venue, recording studio, rehearsal space – had not just found a home, in the centre of Gloucester, but had been designed by the architect of the Tate Gallery and the Imperial War Museum, Paddy Dillon.
And as the multi-million pound King’s Square development began to look like a reality, The Music Works’ plans for the upper floor of King’s House (above The Chambers pub) was touted as key to breathing vital cultural life into the new-look city centre.
And then fate intervened.
‘On paper we had raised £900,000, we were in advanced conversations with a number of other charities and confident we would hit our funding target to make the project happen – and then the pandemic hit.
‘We felt we were so close, and then it all looked like it would fall apart. We had been trying to get to this point for years,’ said Deborah Potts, chief executive officer of the currently Cheltenham-based charity.
‘And then something wonderful happened – all the funding started to come back. Those who committed had obviously needed some time to think, but they all still believed in what we were doing.’
Funds have been pledged by firm’s like Cirencester-based St James’s Place Wealth Management – and then came the news it had also been awarded a £128,000 Government Capital Kickstart grant.
It will all go towards making possible the total renovation of the entire upper floor of King’s House.
When finished (this summer – date to be confirmed) the new Music Hub in Gloucester will have its own event space, two recording studios, two production suites, practice spaces and a sensory music room – all equipped with top of the range music technology and aiming to engage 1,000 young people a year.
Malaki Patterson, creative director at The Music Works, has been at the heart of the long drive to make the vision a reality.
‘The Hub has been a long time coming. I was born and bred in Gloucester and lived here all my life. I have long identified a lack of opportunity for people to get into the creative industry, nowhere to develop themselves, and as a result a lot of people have left,’ said Mr Patterson.
‘But, we have also talked to a lot of young people now, and they want all these things. But they also just want a safe space, somewhere they can meet people, collaborate, grow, develop their talents.
‘They may want to make it in the music business, or they may just want to have fun, build confidence and self-esteem.
‘We will also provide work experience and we are partnering with businesses to help with that. This will be somewhere really new, really high quality, and help put Gloucester on the map – and it is for all of Gloucestershire.’
The Music Works project is also supported by the likes of Cheltenham community charity the CCP, Gloucester Culture Trust, the Forest of Dean District Council, Cotswold Primrose Trust, Cheltenham Lions and the Gloucestershire Hospital Education Service.
By Andrew Merrell