Tell our community a little bit about the work of YUAF
Kerry: Being an artist myself, I recognised the power in creativity, the outlet it creates, the positive impact it has in confidence building and the boost in mental health it offers. So our mission is to improve the transform the lives of young people by improving mental wellbeing through creativity and culture. We have a single-decker bus which is kitted out into a multi-media studio which we take across London estates which usually have no or very little provision for young people teaching creative skills in music production, lyric writing, DJ Skills, visual arts and street dance. What we are essentially doing through the workshops is providing a very much needed safe space for young people to connect with themselves, their communities, make new friends and learn new skills that they can take into their everyday life. With such a high number of young people being picked up and groomed by gangs in the areas that we work with, we are helping to prevent the ones that are at risk and being at the right place at the right time, presenting new more positive activities which supports them into making more positive choices in their lives.
Do stuff just for the pure love of helping that cause.
A very big part of what we do is around improving mental health, we have a programme specifically designed to work with smaller groups of young people over a three month period, taking them on a journey of creativity, self-reflection, self-discovery to build resilience, life skills to help them create the building blocks for their lives and improve their mental health, which is the key to anyone’s success. Good mental health allows anyone to reach and fulfil their own potential. This programme is called Skip to the beat, which is what the IMC fundraiser is all about.
And how did you come to hook up with IMC?
Kerry: We have been building a slow but solid relationship with Ninja Tune over the past year, they have been supporting local workshops and we got the call that they have chosen YUAF as their charity of the year for IMC. Just fantastic!
Talk us through the process of designing the IMC x YUAF t-shirt – who was involved?
Kerry: Jamal was actually one of my first students, who is now a successful designer in his own right and when this opportunity came up, I immediately thought of him. Ben was such an ease to work with, really allowing Jamal to unleash his creativity guided by Ben’s expertise, especially, in the field of designs for t-shirts, so Jamal learned a lot throughout the workshop. They both worked so well together, sharing ideas for the concept, which is what we are all about which is Educating young people to be Empowered (E2E). The actual design was Jamal’s ideas, as you can see from the shirt its actually an estate, Redbridge Estate in Lewisham where Jamal grew up, we all loved the graphics and it was so relatable to YUAF.
What does it mean to you to be able to offer an opportunity like this to Jamal?
Kerry: Working with young people, groups sometimes for short or longer lengths of time, we know that followup and real-life opportunities are invaluable, learning from other professionals is always a huge confidence boost, being in the Ninja Tune HQ (I personally love myself) was also a fantastic experience for Jamal. We are always looking at as many opportunities for our young people to experience, we know they are life changing moments that will always be remembered so it means a lot to me and YUAF!
Tell our community a little bit about the IMC
James: The Independent Music Cup is a friendly, mixed gender, annual 5-a-side football tournament raising money and awareness for a different charity each year, all the teams represent music companies in the Independent music industry. We had 8 teams in the first year and this year will be the biggest yet with 33! The charity is the headline act of the day, and all the other companies come together as one to make a difference on behalf of them. That’s the driving ethos.
How did IMC 2018 pan-out?
James: The day was a great success, the football side went smoothly with Columbo Group beating Ransom Note in the final and the Resident Advisor afterparty going off! Most inspirational of all was when Kerry O’Brien, founder of YUAF went on the mic in front of all 33 teams to do a brilliant talk on why the charity exists and what they do. The final raised sum is still being added to and calculated, but it is our record year yet!
What made you think of approaching YUAF to do a custom t-shirt for this years IMC?
James: The Young Urban Arts Foundation are an amazing charity making a difference to those without opportunities in a time of alarming underfunding. I had worked with them a bit before on their music workshop bus and the founders of Ninja Tune, Coldcut, had worked with them too. The previous 3 charities, CRISIS, MSF & Syria Relief, were much more established, so in 2018 we wanted to work with a newer one that was based in London, as that’s where the tournament is. When we saw how pro-active YUAF are, we thought it would be good to get the kids that they work with some experience in the industry using our contacts. One of these events was linking them up with a designer and hosting a t-shirt design session at Ninja Tune HQ.
Do you have any tips for other organisations looking to make a positive impact through their work?
James: This is quite a broad question! I just think however big a company might get you always have to remember to connect in a positive way to your community and to give opportunities to those that are less lucky. Do stuff just for the pure love of helping that cause.
What’s on the horizon for IMC? Any big plans for 2019 already brewing?
James: I think I might need to sleep for a month first! But we have a good working model now, so, for the time being, we will continue the tournament as is and hopefully bring other companies involved in the tournament to be connected more to the charity for bespoke events around IMC. For example this year DJ Magazine hosted a workshop with professional DJs for 21 kids from the charity!