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Matt Salvage


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Coronavirus COVID-19

Update – School Closures

18th March 5pm –  the Government has announced that schools in England will close from Friday 20th until further notice. The children of key workers, and children who are vulnerable, will be able to stay in school settings.

SoCo will be in conversation with Local Authorities exploring how we may be able to support young people both in and out of school settings during this unprecedented time. We will also be exploring the development and sharing of online resources and tutorials that will help those at home still engage in positive music activities. Please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates.

Unprecedented times for all of us…

Here at SoCo HQ we’ll be paying close attention to the advice and guidance around the Coronavirus, working with our partners to keep activities running where appropriate. If music making sessions are cancelled we will endeavour to inform everyone on our social media channels.

Where sessions are running we ask that you be considerate to other participants and practitioners. If you are suffering from symptoms that are in line with Coronavirus COVID-19 (new and constant cough, high fever) then we strongly recommend that you follow government guidance and self isolate, and we reserve the right to ask you to leave the session to protect the health and well-being of other participants and music leaders.

For up to date advice and guidance on how to best respond to the Coronavirus COVID-19 and for more general advice the following links provide a useful resource:

UK Government Latest Information and Advice

Public Health England – What you need to know

Arts Council England – Advice for the Arts Sector

Musicians Union – Advice for Working Musicians

NCVO – Advice for the Voluntary Sector

If you have a specific enquiries please do contact us.

We all hope you stay safe, please look out for those that need support, and don’t forget to wash your hands.

Apply Now! – Urban Music Development Unit

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SoCo Music Project are excited to announce the development of a new Urban Music Development Unit in Southampton.

Extending our work in youth justice, pupil referral units, youth clubs and schools – the Urban Music Development Unit will provide a supportive environment for young people to develop their passion for urban music genres, collaborate with young people across the city, and learn about progression routes in the music industry.

To get started we are recruiting two new members of the SoCo team; a Programme Manager and a Music Practitioner.

We are looking for passionate and dedicated individuals with skills and experience in urban music and supporting young people. The roles will be part time for three months initially, and we are committed to ensuring that we grow and develop the offer for young people in the city and beyond.

Location to be confirmed, but will include some travel to youth settings/schools and may include evening and weekend work.

Click the job titles above to download the job descriptions, and if you are ready to apply send a CV and covering letter (no more than 2 sides of A4) to Alternatively send a video introducing your self and explaining why you want to join us. Feel free to get in touch if you would like more information. We look forward to hearing from you!

Exchanging notes report released

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Between 2014 and 2018 SoCo Music Project was a delivery partner on Youth Music’s Exchanging Notes programme. The programme was developed to see what would happen if young people at risk of disengagement, low attainment or exclusion from school had access to a creative and inspiring music curriculum that was sustained over four years. Youth Music invested in 10 new partnerships and appointed a team from Birmingham City University to research the impact using a mixed-method approach. All funded through the National Lottery via Arts Council England.

Exchanging Notes worked with 974 young musicians, 72 of whom were tracked across four years. The findings from the research demonstrate that music in schools has the potential to re-engage young people in education, develop their confidence, resilience and self-belief, and create a more positive attitude to learning.

Go to the Youth Music website to read the full report.

Advisory Board Opportunity

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SoCo Music Project are at an exciting stage of their organisational development, and are seeking members to join an advisory board to support our transition to Charity.

To read more about our vision and aims read our manifesto.

Whilst we welcome expressions of interest from all candidates, we are particularly keen to hear from those with knowledge and/or experience in any of the following areas:

  • Charity Development/Governance
  • Accountancy
  • Business Development/Planning
  • Marketing/Communications
  • Fundraising
  • Stakeholder Managment

We would anticipate monthly meetings as we transition to become a charity, we would then recruit our Board of Trustees to which we would welcome you to apply should you wish. Our aspiration is to submit our Charity application early next year, with a view to becoming a Charity in April 2019.

If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can support SoCo Music Project, please contact Marie Negus ( or 07988 683 544) for an informal chat. Following which we would invite you to forward a covering letter (no more than 2 A4 sides), detailing why you are interested in becoming part of our advisory board and how your skills/experience will support organisational growth and resilience by Friday 30th November.

About SoCo Music Project

SoCo Music Project is a non profit music organisation based in Southampton and operating across Hampshire. Started in 2008 by two directors, Matt Salvage and Jon Haughton, SoCo is now an organisation with a regional reach and a reputation for high quality engagement activities. We are at an important stage of our development as we transition to become a charity.

As of Spring 2016 SoCo has been steered by a management team of four in addition to six freelance Music Leaders and three volunteers working across project management, strategic development and workshop delivery.

With a turnover in excess of £200k per year, SoCo continues to develop engaging music programmes and vibrant creative spaces, supporting social action and creative development through music.

SoCo is predominantly project funded through grants and commissions, we have received funding from Youth Music, Arts Council England, Big Lottery, European Social Fund and Local Authorities. Moving forward SoCo is planning on transitioning to a charity and developing more sustainable income through individual/corporate giving.

SoCo Music Project seeks to engage young people (especially those in challenging circumstances) and vulnerable adults in musical activity in order to develop their creative potential, promote cross-cultural understanding and supporting wider social and personal outcomes.

SoCo Music Project is a music delivery organisation that is dedicated to using music to transform lives. We work with agencies and organisations to reach out to some of the most vulnerable children and adults using highly skilled music leaders who deliver a diverse range of innovative and tailored creative music-making activities. We inspire and empower individuals at the heart of the community, to have a voice and develop and grow. We also encourage and train others who share our passion to bring about positive life-changing moments through music.

Our Aims

  • Deepening engagement and widening participation
  • Developing people and increasing skills
  • Demonstrating impact of the benefits of music-making with young people in challenging circumstances and vulnerable adults
  • Developing creative spaces that inspire and support
  • Developing partnerships & relationships that support an increase in participation
  • Encouraging confidence through effective communication
  • Building resilience to enhance and maintain cultural opportunities locally and regionally

Our Values

  • Inspiring and Empowering people who face challenges in their lives and ensuring that their needs and voices inform and define our delivery programmes
  • Developing and Supporting individuals, using the life-changing power of music to improve skills, enrich lives and connect people and organisations
  • Creativity and Diversity is embedded through our organisational values and supports our aspirations to adopt a musically inclusive way of working
  • Developing Partnerships and being an organisation that keeps itself connected with our local arts and cultural sector and communities so that we can respond and reach where we’re needed with the biggest chance of transforming lives and sharing our approach

These core values capture the essence of who we are and are interwoven through everything that we do as we develop as an organisation and transition to become a charity.

SoCo Saturdays: Hitting The Right Notes in Southampton

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SoCo Music Project is excited to announce the launch of SoCo Saturdays, a free music-making programme for young people in Southampton. Every Saturday from 11am to 1pm, SoCo’s experienced Music Leaders will be on hand to support young people to learn and create; with sessions suitable both for those at the start of their musical journey and those wanting to hone their musical skills in performance, songwriting or music production. The sessions launch on October 13th and will take place from The Pavilion in Hoglands Park, Southampton City Centre.

The programme is funded by Southampton City Council’s Community Cohesion fund and is part of a wider SoCo project that aims to engage a variety of marginalised communities across Southampton through activity within Hoglands Park, as explained by SoCo’s Project Manager, Mark Scott:

“This programme of open provision will support music-making for young people at all levelsBy using The Pavilion for positive, creative activity, we are aiming to breathe new life into a park that faces many challenges. We are looking to develop a multi-arts programme of engagement, creating a safe space where people can come together and take part in something positive and creative.”

Where: The Pavilion, Hoglands Park, Southampton City Centre

When: 11-1pm every Saturday, starting October 6th

For further information about this service, to make a referral, to volunteer or to offer financial support for this project, please contact

The Point partners with SoCo Music Project

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The Point, Eastleigh has partnered with SoCo Music Project to support the development of local musicians in a new collaborative venture.

The Point’s partnership with SoCo has been growing throughout recent years and in 2017 the organisation became based at the venue. The Foyer Sessions and Anything Funny have since been developed to introduce and promote local new talent in both music and comedy.

The Foyer Sessions provide a platform for local artists to perform original music live to intimate audiences at The Point. This Spring The Foyer Sessions will present music from Chateau Bateau Band, Fly Away Peter and Friends and Tenderlore. Tickets are based on a Pay What You Can scheme and start from £2.50, giving as many people as possible the opportunity to attend live performance.

Anything Funny provides an accessible platform for local people to develop and try out new material at a fun, relaxed Open Mic Night and at Comedy Lab; a collaborative support network for writers and performers.

SoCo Music Project is co-directed by Matt Salvage and Jon Haughton and has been providing vibrant music activity since 2008. The not-for-profit organisation is recognised amongst the leading music delivery organisations in the South, working with young people and vulnerable adults. SoCo Music Project’s vision supports two areas of work: Engage and Elevate. SoCo delivers engaging and life-changing opportunities through music for young people and adults that may face challenges in their lives and are also committed to supporting and nurturing emerging musicians as they try and forge a career in the music industry.

Matt Salvage, Director of SoCo said:

‘SoCo Music Project was made to reimagine the way in which artists receive support and how communities can engage with music. We’re passionate about changing lives through music and provide activities and events that inspire and entertain. Our continuing – and constantly developing – partnership with The Point allows us to work in a new and collaborative way, fusing our different expertise to provide the best opportunities for artists and audiences alike.’

SoCo Music works strategically to enhance music-related opportunities for young people and artists in the region. The Point is dedicated to providing opportunities for young talent to flourish and works closely with artists working across all disciplines, developing new work in all forms. Together, the two organisations work symbiotically to create a vibrant and resilient ecology – developing a good model of practice in partnership working that other regional venues and arts organisations can follow.

The Point is a regional powerhouse for contemporary performance. In 2018 it launches a new @HOME scheme, introducing a new way of working for artists and audiences, alongside its flagship Associate Artist programme for emerging companies. The venue’s continuing relationship with SoCo opens further opportunities to offer platforms and professional development to more artists from all ages, working across all disciplines.

Sacha Lee, Artistic Director at The Point said

‘Working closely with our local creative partners and having a shared ethos is very important in developing a thriving, creative hub in Eastleigh. SoCo Music are able to bring expertise and specialist knowledge to the table, enabling us to increase our cultural offer to local residents and new audiences. We are very pleased they have joined our ‘family’.’


Southampton Sampler Vol. 1 – Pre-order now!

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SoCo supports music at all levels, and we’re very excited to be releasing an exclusive vinyl album showcasing the incredible fresh talent in Southampton right now.

Southampton Sampler VOL.1 is a collaboration project brought to you by SoCo Music Project and Hightown Studios, bringing together musicians and artists to celebrate the diversity of Southampton’s music scene. We encouraged local talent to take part in this opportunity by sending us their best original tracks. In turn, their work was shortlisted from over 100 entries and then judged by our independent panel comprising of renowned members of the music community including Rob da Bank, Emma and Russell from Band of Skulls, Dan Mar-Molinero and Stephanie Nieuwenhuys from BBC introducing. We’re excited to be launching the ten track vinyl at the beginning of December 2017. It’s a fantastic album, mixed and mastered at Hightown Studios, that highlights just how much great music is coming out of the city.

All profits go back into supporting music making in the community!

The album will be hitting the shelves in December, but you can pre order your copy here.

Tracklist :

  1. The Dead Freights – Mama, I won’t Waste Your Time
  2. Kitty O’Neal – Ok
  3. Billy Miles – The Other Side Of The Road
  4. Zen Juddhism – All Of It Feat Pammie Moore
  5. Pedro – The Price Of Living
  6. Hotch ft LST – Against All Odds
  7. Temples Of Youth – AM
  8. Lucas & King – A Romance With The Ordinary
  9. Cat Eliza T – Cement
  10. Tenderlore – Birdwatching

Artwork Copyright 2017 Will Whittington

SoCo secure a place on Prosper Programme

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SoCo are delighted to be one of 70 organisations and individuals across the arts, museums and libraries that will benefit from free business support through the Creative United Prosper programme.

The cohort includes cutting edge artists, innovative library services, enterprising museums and much-loved arts organisations.

Prosper was designed and launched by Creative United with funding from Arts Council England,  Access – the Foundation for Social Investment and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and is delivered in partnership with the Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University and the Arts Marketing Association. It will enable those in the cohort to grow and develop into more resilient organisations, better able to attract income from a variety of sources as well as pursue their creative and social missions.

Over the next 9 months the cohort will work with a specialist business advisor to tackle areas such as strengthening business plans, empowering their teams with innovation and enterprise skills, identifying new business models and understanding the value of their own assets and intellectual property (IP). They will also have the choice of participating in a range of masterclasses, workshops and webinars designed for all levels – from CEO to project assistants, shop floor workers to trustees.

The application period for the programme ran from 27 March to 31 May 2017. In that time 260 organisations, sole traders, local authorities, charities, enterprises and artist practitioners applied from across England. The selected cohort represents companies of all sizes and types, with specialisms including contemporary dance incorporating VR technology, promotion of sub-cultures, youth theatre, clowning, design for the stage, music education, museums of social history and community libraries. 81% are based outside of London.

Mary-Alice Stack, Chief Executive of Creative United, said: “We’re thrilled that, working closely with our partners and networks across the country, we have attracted so many vibrant and culturally significant organisations to apply to Prosper. I feel this is a clear indicator of the appetite for the business development opportunity offered by the programme, and I look forward to seeing the impacts of our work – enabling creative and cultural companies to be more resilient to change, more able to respond to opportunities, and increase their contribution to our economy, culture and society.”

Matt Salvage, Director of SoCo Music Project, said: “The Prosper Programme provides a great opportunity for us to develop as an organisation, building our resilience to ensure we can keep on delivering inspiring and engaging music workshops, activities and events for children, young people and adults across the region. We’re looking forward to being part of this strong cohort of ambitious organisations and individuals, getting the support we need to take us forward into the future”.

More information about the Prosper cohort can be found on the website

For more information about Creative United or Prosper please email Sarah Thirtle.

Measuring the Impact of the Arts

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On the 15th May 2017 The CHAOS Network hosted an afternoon of discussion and exploration about how, as artists and arts organisations, we can better measure the impact of our work. The session came out of a conversation from a previous Network meeting, and it was felt that a focused session, that included representatives from local authority, funding bodies, the commissioning unit and academia would be useful for all parties.

The CHAOS Network began in 2010 to provide an opportunity for creatives in the city to get together and talk, debate, share and promote the cultural offer in Southampton. CHAOS stands for Creative, Heritage and Arts Organisations of Southampton. Its inception coincided with SoCo Music Project taking on a new open creative space in the city and identifying a need for networking for creative in the city. Now a rich community of practice, the CHAOS Network has always been an open forum and welcomes new members from all creative backgrounds.

Creative practitioners and organisations in the city deliver a wide range of activities, many of which have a strong social impact. At a time where accessing funding is becoming more challenging, and local authorities are moving toward more commissioning based models, it’s becoming more important than ever to measure and evaluate the role of the arts in our communities. It is often the case that we can provide stories of how engagement with arts, music, theatre, film and more can improve mental health, enhance life chances, aid recovery, and even save lives. Often, however, these stories are anecdotal and lacking in clear evidence. How can we take these stories, these life improving activities, and ensure we are measuring and evaluating with credibility? Strong evaluation helps us to understand (and to learn from) the effectiveness of our work while also providing evidence of its impact. Where this impact can be aligned to local/regional/national priorities, it can put us in a strong position to access funding, commissioning and contracts that look to address these priorities. This could include a wide number of agendas, such as employability, health and wellbeing and behavior change.

The Measuring the Impact of the Arts event in May was attended by a cross section of artists/arts organisations, local commissioners and academics. A session on evaluation and frameworks was led by David Walters from the Winchester University Centre for Arts as Wellbeing, and city priorities and outlined by Moraig Forrest-Charde from the Southampton Integrated Commissioning Unit and Councillor Dave Sheilds, the Chair of the local Health and Wellbeing Board and cabinet member for Health.

Rebecca Kinge, a Southampton-based community organiser, coordinator for the emerging Creative Places project and Director of The Southampton Collective Community Interest Company was in attendance and has provide some useful notes from the event:

David Walters from University of Winchester gave us summary of his background and experience. Having been a musician he recognised that ‘things happen in an audience’ and he went on to work with gay men with AIDS and HIV in New York City and set up a community choir, where life and death was celebrated. Seeing the powerful impact of music making, he later established a community music venue in Hampshire (CODA Music Centre) which worked with everyone, formal education and informal music making. He then moved into the academic world, setting up a centre to study arts intervention in health and social care.

Points from David’s presentation:

Commissioners are cautious, they need evidence to support their decisions about investing in services. David made a number of points about how evaluation is included:

  • Often evaluation is tacked on at the end because the artist sees a need to demonstrate a particular point.
  • However, evaluation is subjective, and can show unintended outcomes and impacts. An objective evaluation has strength and power.
  • Good evaluation should be unique to every project. Much of the work takes place at the beginning.
  • Evaluation needs to change as you go along. It is important to try and recognise at the start where the pinch points may be, where the evaluation process may need to change direction.
  • Evaluating in an arts context can be challenging, it may not always be clear what the impacts are a direct result of the work that the artist is doing and what is a result of the environment around or some other factor.
  • Reflective practice is to be encouraged.
  • Wellbeing can be subjective. Universities can help with measurement techniques.
  • There are a number of evaluation techniques, quantitative, qualitative and case studies. Mixed methods are increasingly encouraged and seen as valid.
  • Economic evaluation. There is some strong cost benefit analysis of the impact of the arts. Dr Simon Opher made powerful argument about this, see this Artlift case study and BBC article here.
  • David also mentioned evidence that singing can help with chronic breathing and how the perception of pain can be changed.
  • Clearly define what went into a project, so that it can be replicable. Being able to replicate the work is important to commissioners. It is necessary to be clear about the skills that go into a project, and not just those that are particular to an individual who is involved in delivery.
  • Moraig Forrest-Charde (from Southampton Integrated Commissioning Unit) talked about the importance of knowing who the audience is, understanding the commissioner. Commissioners may have very little knowledge of arts interventions, so explain it clearly.
  • Dave Shields (Councillor with Cabinet responsibilities for Health and Wellbeing) talked about the other alternative interventions that may address the same issue, e.g. employment services, policing.

Representatives from the Southampton Integrated Commissioning Unit provided an outline of city priorities. These included the reduction of loneliness and isolation, helping those furthest from the labour market to move towards employment, and behaviour change (including tackling obesity and smoking cessation). As mentioned above, commissioners are cautious and would require strong evidence that arts interventions are effective at tackling these priorities. It was suggested that an advocacy document that highlights the positive work in the city would be useful, and that a priority for arts organisations should be to engage with the wider community sector. Commissioners and councillors are happy to continue this discussion and would welcome communications from organisations and individuals highlighting potential innovative solutions to city priorities.

There are many useful websites and tools that can help us to better evaluate our work, here is a selection:

Other useful tools for evaluation and measuring the impact of the arts/community activity include:

Inspiring Impact

Evidencing Impact Value Calculator (created for social housing but can be applied more widely to calculate social value)

Adrienne Pye, Senior Consultant for Evaluation at the Audience Agency ( recommended the Evaluation Toolkit from ixia, public art think tank

It was agreed that this event was the starting point, and that the conversation should continue. If you would like to be part of this conversation please contact me at: