SoCo Launches Arts Leaders Programme

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SoCo are excited to be launching a new workforce development and support programme for aspiring creative practitioners. Funded by Southampton City Council’s Community Learning Innovation Fund, the Arts Leaders Programme will support creatives of any discipline/art-form and career stage to gain the skills and experience to develop and lead community arts workshops.

SoCo will work with arts partners across the city to provide training and shadowing opportunities, and participants will be supported to design and create digital resources and online content.  Training will include Safeguarding, Creative Facilitation, Project Evaluation and Trauma Informed Practice.

The programme will run until March 2022, with two cohorts (December-January, February-March).

Engagement with the Arts Leaders programme is free. If you are an artist, musician, film maker, poet or performer and you’d like to broaden your career opportunities, sign up now through this simple form. If you would like additional information you can contact us or email

If you are an Arts Organisation and can offer support and/or shadowing opportunities, please sign up here.



New Directions – a partnership project supported by Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner

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SoCo are excited to be launching a new project – New Directions. The programme is funded by the Hampshire Police and Crime Commissioner, and brings together four arts partners and four schools in Southampton, supporting young people to try something new and take part in positive creative activities.

The arts partners will be bringing their engaging activities to young people that would otherwise not engage in cultural opportunities and may be at risk of exclusion, anti-social behaviour or facing challenges with their education. Partners are SoCo Music Project, ArtfulScribe, ZoieLogic Dance and Mayflower Theatre.

The schools taking part are Polygon School, Oasis Academy Lordshill, Oasis Academy Sholing and Redbridge Community College.

Matt Salvage, CEO of SoCo said: “This project is a great opportunity for young people to try something new and be part of a larger programme that will result in a performance at MAST Mayflower Studios. We’ve brought together a great team of arts providers and know that we can get young people on to a positive pathway through music, spoken word, theatre and dance.”

The programme will run throughout the Autumn and Spring terms of the 21/22 academic year.

Join Us – Digital Learning Officer

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SoCo is very excited to be recruiting a Digital Learning Officer to support our online resources

Salary: £28k per year pro rata (Freelance or PAYE).
Hours: 1 day per week, flexible to your availability.
Duration: 6 month contract, possibility of longer term if funding allows.
Location: SoCo HQ @ MAST (Southampton) and Hightown Studios (Thornhill).
Application Deadline: 4th October 2021 @ 5pm

The Role
SoCo Music Project is a busy music charity delivering a wide range of projects, services, events and activities. We are confident in our ability to improve lives through music, we’ve been doing it for over 12 years, supporting wellbeing and progression in the city and beyond. The pandemic has caused many challenges, not least the ability to provide engaging and consistent face to face music making and learning opportunities. In response to this we created SoCo Academy, a digital learning platform to host tutorials and learning programmes, supporting people to continue their creative progression at their own pace. We want to continue to grow this offer and the Digital Learning Officer will be tasked with sourcing and creating digital creative programmes, working with our awesome music leaders and creative practitioners across the city.

The Person
You’ll be passionate about music and the arts, understand how it can change peoples lives for the better, and be able to develop engaging and inspiring learning programmes that will support wellbeing and progression through music and creative practice.

We’ll introduce you to our work, our team and the people that benefit from our services, and you’ll be able to work off your own initiative to capture content, and work with professional practitioners to grow the digital offer that SoCo Academy provides.

Previous experience of working with e-learning environments is desirable – but solid knowledge of how to structure creative programmes, and create innovative and engaging learning opportunities – are very welcome!

Person Spec


  • Ability to edit/update WordPress Websites
  • Knowledge of video editing software
  • Clear and confident communication skills
  • Able to structure creative learning programmes
  • Graphic design skills
  • A positive and enthusiastic approach to work
  • Ability to work on you own, as well as part of a team


  • Knowledge of E-Learning platforms (specifically LearnDash)
  • Experience of writing/developing schemes of work/session plans
  • Experience of delivering creative workshops
  • Creative photography/videography skills

To apply please send a CV with cover letter, a slide deck/powerpoint, or a short video (YouTube/Vimeo link) to Matt Salvage:

There is an opportunity to combine this role with the Comms and Marketing Specialist role, find out more here.

SoCo Music Project is an equal opportunities employer.

Join Us – Comms and Marketing

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SoCo is very excited to be recruiting a Communications and Marketing specialist to help us tell our story.

Salary: £28k per year pro rata (Freelance or PAYE).
Hours: 2 days per week, flexible to your availability.
Duration: 6 month contract, possibility of longer term if funding allows.
Location: SoCo HQ @ MAST (Southampton) and various delivery sites.
Application Deadline: 4th October 2021 @ 5pm

The Role
SoCo Music Project is a busy music charity delivering a wide range of projects, services, events and activities. We are confident in our ability to improve lives through music, we’ve been doing it for over 12 years, supporting wellbeing and progression in the city and beyond. Our challenge has always been sharing the incredible outcomes that we see all the time in our work. We want to be able to shout about what we do, and we want to raise the profile of the organisation so we can do more of it. Our comms and marketing specialist will provide that vital link, connecting and interacting with audiences to showcase our work, whether it’s a series of workshops in an Early Years setting, a development opportunity for emerging artists, or a performance one of Southampton’s top venues, you’ll be promoting, sharing and celebrating our work.

The Person
You’ll be passionate about music and the arts, understand how it can change peoples lives for the better, and be able to create compelling and engaging narrative that demonstrates how the team at SoCo support wellbeing and progression through music.

We’ll introduce you to our work, our team and the people that benefit from our services, and you’ll be able to work off your own initiative to capture powerful stories, share news and events across social media platforms and create relevant content for our website.

Previous experience of working in marketing and the charity sector is desirable – but solid knowledge of how to communicate effectively in the digital age, and innovative and striking ideas – are very welcome!

Person Spec


  • Knowledge of social media platforms
  • Ability to edit/update WordPress Websites
  • Clear and confident communication skills
  • Able to write compelling and creative copy
  • Graphic design skills
  • A positive and enthusiastic approach to work
  • Ability to work on you own, as well as part of a team


  • Knowledge of the charity/community sector
  • Experience of writing/developing organisational comms strategy
  • Qualification in Marketing/Communications
  • Creative photography/videography skills

To apply please send a CV with cover letter, a slide deck/powerpoint, or a short video (YouTube/Vimeo link) to Matt Salvage: Closing date 4th October 2021.

There is an opportunity to combine this role with the Digital Learning Officer role, find out more here.

SoCo Music Project is an equal opportunities employer.

Join us – SoCo seeks Trustees

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Looking for a Trustee role in an exciting and vibrant arts and wellbeing charity? Here at SoCo Music Project we are growing our Board to bring in the skills and enthusiasm to take the organisation to the next level.

You will help to shape strategy and provide invaluable guidance and judgment to the staff team to help us realise our vision, all the while ensuring the board meets its governance responsibilities for the organisation in line with the principles that guide us.

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 applicants with knowledge of or experience in any of the following areas:

●      The arts, especially Music

●      Fundraising

●      Mental Health

●      Charity Development

●      Young people (Education)

●      Diversity

●      Comms and Marketing

●      Business Development

SoCo Music Project Trustees will give their time voluntarily for a minimum three-year term. Board meetings take place six times a year, and trustees may also be asked to become a member of a small sub-group with a particular focus. We aim to have a wide range of people on the Board, and there is no need to have prior trustee experience to apply.

We hope that membership on our Board allows individuals to contribute passionately to one of Hampshire’s leading Music organisations in a positive and friendly environment, helping to progress our unique organisation and achieve its objectives.

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 a Trustee and how your skills/experience will support organisational growth and resilience by Friday 28th May.

About SoCo Music Project

SoCo Music Project is an arts and wellbeing charity based in Southampton and operating across Hampshire. Started in 2008 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 a new charity.

As of Spring 2021 SoCo is steered by a management team of three, has a fantastic board of five and totals ten staff working across project management, strategic development and workshop delivery.

With a turnover in excess of £250k 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 from Youth Music, Arts Council England, Big Lottery, European Social Fund and Local Authorities. We hope to develop 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 encourage the 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 Objectives
● To increase music making opportunities for people who face challenging circumstances in their lives (young people and adults);
● To support the sector in its region through networking, signposting and training for organisations and emerging music leaders;
● To increase awareness of the benefits (social, personal, health) of music making for people in challenging circumstances (young people and adults);
● To encourage and facilitate cross-sector partnerships;
● To support the creation of environments/spaces for music-making and progression.

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

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.


Position Description

We are seeking individuals who are passionate about music and the arts, and the positive impact it has on communities, to support senior management to drive our continuing success, and fulfil our ambitions for the future. You will help to shape overall strategy and provide invaluable independent guidance and judgement to help us realise our vision, all the while ensuring the Board meets its governance responsibilities for the organisation in line with the principles that guide us.

Main Tasks / Responsibilities

Legal Responsibilities
To maintain the legality of SoCo Music Project’s operations according to its constitutional framework and in accordance with statutory requirements of Companies House and to ensure all the necessary statutory documents are returned to Companies House on time.

Trustee Responsibilities
● Ensure all legal requirements are fulfilled as the employers of SoCo Music Project staff
● To value, support and motivate staff and ensure the best possible terms and conditions of employment
● To operate an equal opportunities policy
● Responsible with the Chairman for the recruitment of the Directors and additional staff as required

Communication and Advocacy
● Enhance SoCo Music Project’s profile by communicating our ambitions to the wider community.

Fundraising and Finance Strategy
● Ensure the organisation operates within the law and in line with its fiscal responsibilities
● To ensure sound financial management, being aware of trustees’ responsibility for monitoring the financial position on a regular basis
● Approve the annual budget and ensure appropriate financial controls are in place
● To allocate resources wisely and look after any capital assets
● To support and help the organisation in its fundraising.

Monitoring and Policy Development
● Ensure that the organisation operates with legal and ethical integrity
● Monitor, review update, approve and support the business plan
● Monitor the organisation as it plans and delivers its ambitions, measuring achievements against aims and objectives and funding agreements
● Monitor programmes of work to ensure it is of quality and in line with the ambitions of the organisation

● Embrace diversity throughout the organisation and support the promotion of a positive work environment where difference is embraced and everyone is treated with respect and dignity
● Responsible for overseeing the management of health & safety, as laid down in legislation and in line with the organisation’s policies and procedures

SoCo awarded £61,760 from Arts Council’s Cultural Recovery Fund

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SoCo Music Project has received a grant of £61,760 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund to help the organisation recover and reopen.

More than £300 million has been awarded to thousands of cultural organisations across the country including SoCo Music Project in the latest round of support from the Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary announced today.

SoCo supports wellbeing and progression through music, working in Early Years settings, in Special Education, supporting young people at risk of offending and providing positive activities for vulnerable adults. The grant from the Cultural Recovery Fund will provide support for SoCo to continue to develop and deliver activities and programmes that make a difference in people’s lives across Southampton and Hampshire.

Over £800 million in grants and loans has already been awarded to support almost 3,800 cinemas, performance venues, museums, heritage sites and other cultural organisations dealing with the immediate challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of awards made today will help organisations to look ahead to the spring and summer and plan for reopening and recovery. After months of closures and cancellations to contain the virus and save lives, this funding will be a much-needed helping hand for organisations transitioning back to normal in the months ahead.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said:

“Our record breaking Culture Recovery Fund has already helped thousands of culture and heritage organisations across the country survive the biggest crisis they’ve ever faced.

Now we’re staying by their side as they prepare to welcome the public back through their doors – helping our cultural gems plan for reopening and thrive in the better times ahead.”

Matt Salvage, CEO of SoCo Music Project said:

 “For the last 12 years SoCo has been committed to supporting people across the Southampton and Hampshire to take part in fun and impactful music making activities. The pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives and as we start to find a level of normality we want to ensure that our activities and events can continue to help with people’s wellbeing and aspirations.

 The Culture Recovery Fund has come at a time when music and the arts will be needed more than ever. We’re extremely grateful to receive this funding and we’re looking forward to providing vibrant and engaging activities.”

 Sir Nicholas Serota, Chair, Arts Council England, said:

“Investing in a thriving cultural sector at the heart of communities is a vital part of helping the whole country to recover from the pandemic. These grants will help to re-open theatres, concert halls, and museums and will give artists and companies the opportunity to begin making new work. 

 We are grateful to the Government for this support and for recognising the paramount importance of culture to our sense of belonging and identity as individuals and as a society.”

The funding awarded today is from a £400 million pot which was held back last year to ensure the Culture Recovery Fund could continue to help organisations in need as the public health picture changed. The funding has been awarded by Arts Council England, as well as Historic England and National Lottery Heritage Fund and the British Film Institute.

SoCo joins MAST

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It’s with great excitement that we are able to announce that SoCo Music Project will be a resident partner of MAST in Southampton. MAST (Mayflower Studios) is a vibrant community cultural hub in the centre of the city. It brings together a partnership of dynamic arts organisations that will be working together to provide inspiring experiences for the people of Southampton and beyond. SoCo will be joining Mayflower Theatre, ArtfulScribe, ZoieLogic and Our Version Media, creating a rich and diverse that joins other fantastic organisations in Southampton’s cultural quarter including City Eye and John Hansard Gallery.

MAST’s mission is to:

  • Preserve and maintain MAST for the community and provide a diverse programme of quality arts experiences
  • Be valuable to the community and local cultural offer as a creative hub and centre of excellence for culture in Southampton
  • Be community led with engagement and consultation at its heart

We’re looking forward to providing engagement activities and high quality music programming from the space. If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

MAST Studio 1
The Lobby space at MAST
Studio 2 at MAST

SoCo Academy: It’s Launch Day!

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We are proud to announce that, brand new for 2021, we have launched our very own online learning platform: SoCo Academy.

Thanks to funding from Arts Council England, SoCo can continue to provide you with some awesome creative lessons and support any time, any place! You can currently choose from guitar, bass, drums or try your hand at some instrument-making arts and crafts lessons featuring local musicians and Community Music Leaders.

Over the coming months, SoCo Academy will continue to evolve and we’ll be adding more creative content so that it is packed full of fun and unique tutorials for you to learn and discover in the comfort of your own home.

All you need to do is sign up for free to gain full access to all of our wonderful creative content. Follow this link to the SoCo Academy website to embark on your creative journey now!

Any requests for material or if you’d like to share your skills and knowledge, please get in touch:

SoCo Supports Live Music in the city

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A new busking project has been launched in Southampton, bringing a programme of live music to the city centre in celebration of the city’s musical diversity.

Commissioned by GO! Southampton, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), and delivered by SoCo Music Project with support from Solent University, the project offers an alternative platform for artists to perform in Southampton, at a time when the city’s live music and performance venues are largely unable to open due to social distancing requirements.

The busking project kicked off on the August Bank Holiday weekend with performances on Above Bar Street from Polly Gone Wrong and Black Kat Boppers. Forming part of GO! Southampton’s city centre recovery plan, it is one of a series of planned activations aiming to animate public spaces to create a more vibrant city centre experience for visitors, workers and residents returning to Southampton post-lockdown.

As well as live music the performances, which are taking place in approved city-centre busking locations, will also incorporate spoken word and street theatre. Acts, most with Southampton connections, have been carefully selected by SoCo Music Project to ensure a diverse and high-quality range of performances are delivered. Artists are receiving a small fee for performing which falls in line with the values and principles that will be displayed throughout Southampton’s bid to become UK City of Culture in 2025. The project will not only help to support the music and creative industries, it will also aim to  kickstart a busking economy in the city.

Matt Salvage, Chief Executive at SoCo Music Project said: “The music and performance industries have faced incredible challenges throughout the pandemic. As we start to emerge from these challenging and unprecedented times, we are excited to be working with GO! Southampton and Solent University to bring live music and performance back to the city centre.

“As well as animating the city it provides much needed performance opportunities for artists, introducing them to new audiences and bringing the streets to life with music, spoken word and theatre. We’ve a vibrant schedule over the next few months with something for everyone, we hope you are able to visit the city and discover something new.”

As well as supporting Southampton’s present-day live music industry, the project will also shine a spotlight on the city’s rich music heritage, which is often overlooked or understated, with little known facts to be promoted via the Visit Southampton website and social media channels.

Prof Martin James, Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries at Solent University commented: “From folk song to the rhymes of grime, reggae’s roots to the UK’s new jazz scene, Southampton has a richly diverse music heritage that often goes unnoticed and, at times, has become hidden.

“Solent University has a long-standing interest in Southampton’s music past and present and is committed to supporting a healthy and sustainable music scene that can build on this rich but hidden heritage. We are delighted to be working with GO! Southampton and SoCo Music Project in support of this busking initiative and feel sure that it will bring a fresh focus on the power of the city’s amazing music talent.”

With many of the artists participating in the project ordinarily regular performers in Southampton’s live music venues, it is hoped the initiative will also help to encourage audiences back to those venues once they are able to reopen. UK Music states that, nationally, the core live music industry, which directly generates £1.1billion to the economy, stands to lose at least £900million if it remains closed for the rest of 2020, with 90% of grassroots music venues facing the threat of closure.

Giles Semper, Executive Director at GO! Southampton said: “I’m afraid that our city centre retail core has become more associated with illegal money-raising activities than with welcome activities like busking. We wanted to change that. We are also desperately keen to support the city’s incredible musical talent at a time when its usual platforms have been closed.

“We strongly encourage people who enjoy seeing an act’s busking performance in the city centre to go and support them when they’re back on the bill at a Southampton venue in future. We also endorse UK Music’s ‘Let The Music Play’ campaign, which calls for a bespoke range of support measures for the live music industry.”

Busking performances will take place in the city centre on selected weekends until at least the end of December. Other projects within the BID’s city centre recovery plan include a range of initiatives to facilitate more art in public spaces and supporting ZoieLogic Dance Theatre’s new socially distanced community dance initiative, ‘The Grid Experience’.


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A potential lifeline for arts and culture in the UK, the British government has unveiled a £1.57bn package of grants and loans for music and arts organisations.

The British government today (5 July) announced a rescue package worth £1.57 billion to help the UK’s arts and culture sector weather the impact of the coronavirus.

The measures – which follow Thursday’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign that saw the UK music industry come together to call for immediate government assistance for the live music business – will see emergency grants and loans extended to a range of creative and heritage businesses, including live music and entertainment organisations.

The package, described by HM Treasury as the “biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture”, includes:

  • A £1.15bn “support pot” for cultural organisations in England, delivered through a mix of grants (£880 million) and loans (£270 million)
  • £100m of targeted support for ‘national cultural institutions’ in England, such as galleries and museums, and the English Heritage Trust
  • £120m capital investment to restart construction on cultural infrastructure and construction projects in England which were paused due to Covid-19

The devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will also receive extra funding, of £33m, £97m and £59m, respectively.

The repayable finance will be issued on “generous terms tailored for cultural institutions” to ensure they are affordable, according to the Treasury.

The government says decisions on funding awards will be made in consultation with “expert independent figures” in each sector, including bodies such as the British Film Institute, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Announcing the package, culture secretary Oliver Dowden – to whom the #LetTheMusicPlay letter campaign was addressed – describes culture as the “soul of our nation”. “I said we would not let the arts down,” he says, “and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

Further details of the scheme will be available when it opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, chair of the UK’s Concert Promoters’ Association, comments: “On Thursday the live music industry came together in an unprecedented way to ask the government for support, and so this announcement is both timely and warmly welcomed.

“We asked for three things, and today it looks like the first of those – a financial support package – has been granted. We’re looking forward to clarification that this package safeguards our whole ecosystem – from our artists and crews, to our festivals, venues and many professionals – and working closely with the government to deliver it.”

In addition to announcing the new funds, the government release says Dowden and his colleagues are “finalising guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sectors”, to be published shortly. “The government is working with the sectors to get it back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so, and is being guided by medical experts,” it reads.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, says the organisation “warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain’s world-class live music scene. We’d like to thank the secretary of state and the team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the opportunity to work closely together throughout this crisis to develop genuine solutions to the challenges faced by grassroots music venues.

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

He adds: “We’d like to thank everyone in the industry who gave us so much support during this incredibly difficult time.”