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Stalham Brass Band – Celebrate 2 x £10,000 Grant Awards

Stalham Brass Band – Celebrate 2 x £10,000 Grant Awards

Dr. Tim ThirstWhat a difference a year can make. Twelve months ago the Stalham Brass Band in North Norfolk like many bands in rural areas were facing a future with declining numbers of players as a result of little or no brass tuition taking place in the local schools. The band already trains youngsters but being in a rural area many move away when they get older for education or employment.

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the distant horizon the band’s enterprising Musical Director, Dr Tim Thirst MBE and a member of the NABBC, set about a bold new plan to create the “Stalham Training Band fit to perform for The Queen”.

Tim explained “I knew exactly what I wanted to do to ensure the long term future. We needed to ensure the future sustainability of Stalham Brass Band by starting a new training programme for 50 local children and young people in the first year to mark the Diamond Jubilee year. It would take about £35,000 funding and three years to firmly establish a new training section within the band.”

First stop was the British Federation of Brass Bands (BFBB), as a member band Stalham is eligible to apply to one of their funding schemes –The Norman Jones Trust Fund and they were successful in 2011 with an award of £1,000.

BFBB Liaison Officer, Terry Luddington, added “This type of funding from the BFBB is vital for bands as it can be used as match funding in other applications. I have been advising Tim on his funding approach for nearly 12 months now and to his credit he has explored every avenue in North Norfolk, making over 40 applications, and his determination has been rewarded with an amazing £29,600 raised so far towards his project, including £10,000 from the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity.”

“We are particularly pleased with the recent award from Grants for the Arts for £10,000. This is very important news for bands as it clearly demonstrates that if you have a good application, and are willing to listen to the feedback from Arts Council England, then you will be successful.”

With funding secured no time has been lost in putting the new training programme into action with the local schools as Tim summarised below....

Stalham Band Training Grants March-April 2012

“Pictured are some of the more than 50 new recruits to the training scheme at one of the area junior schools. Pupils from other junior and high schools will be entering the scheme over the next few months. Pupils have been assessed over the last two weeks for their choice and suitability for particular instruments. Weekly classes follow in school with after school and weekend activities scheduled. Trainees will also have visits to, and master classes run, in cooperation with championship bands and bands from the Corps of Army Music. The initial time scale of three years has been designed to eventually become a rolling programme for 8 – 16 year olds in the area with over a hundred participants in the scheme at any one time. Tuition, instrument hire, band membership and other support activities are funded by the grants and are entirely free for participants.”

Terry concluded on behalf of BFBB:

“We believe putting Brass Bands back into our local communities can provide some great opportunities for improving community cohesion by encouraging:

  • All age groups to get involved in playing music and working together
  • Non playing volunteers to help with regular support activities
  • Other community groups to work together with their local brass band to help engage new audiences & participants for their activities at community events throughout the year.

We very much look forward to monitoring the progress of the Stalham Brass Band training programme and see how we can further develop and replicate the best practice results in other rural communities around the country. One of our key strategic aims for the next three years is to help broker successful collaborations between Brass Bands, the new Music Education Hubs and Arts Council England’s new strategic programmes aimed at supporting these communities.”

Dr. Tim Thirst MBE

Congratulations to Tim and everyone connected with the Stalham Brass Band Association.