Connecting young people with sound opportunities


AMP Director Sarah McWatt interviewed by Ben Lee

Ben Lee took part in AMP’s Plugged in programme as a journalist, and is now an AMP trustee. Plugged In is our youth voice programme, with courses, mentoring and work opportunities for young people interested in gaining more experience in all aspects of the music industry.

Here, Ben asks Sarah about our name change from NYMAZ, why the name AMP was chosen, youth voice, and what’s coming up next this year for AMP.

Why have you changed your name from NYMAZ?

The name NYMAZ is very much rooted in North Yorkshire given that the NY historically stands for North Yorkshire itself. A lot of our work has grown in terms of reach, and our reputation has grown through programmes such as our digital programme, Connect: Resound. Through our youth voice work, we’re getting more recognition widely, as we have given training to national organisations such as Brass Bands England, and we have presented about youth voice to the national Music Mark conference in Southampton.

Because we deliver a lot of our work in a hybrid fashion or online, it feels like our reach can easily go beyond the boundaries of North Yorkshire. Our vision and mission will be staying broadly the same. We want to continue to provide music opportunities for young people in challenging circumstances, and working in rural isolation will remain a key feature. We just feel it’s a much more fitting, vibrant brand that reflects the energy of the work we do.

What led to being rebranded as AMP?

When we rebranded our youth led programme to Plugged In, we spent a lot of time talking to the young producers we worked with. We really liked that the branding was very much led by young people. It felt like it would be great to have a name that had synergy with Plugged In.

We talked to all our trustees, including young trustees, and our young producers, and AMP felt like a name that could be embedded in our youth voice identity very easily. It’s a word linked to music, such as amplify. We feel that reflects what we want to do, as we want to increase our impact and grow. So, it feels aspirational as well.

Why is being a youth-led charity important for you?

If we’re going to appeal to young people, what they’re interested in, and the promotion of skills that would be of use to them, we need to listen to their ideas rather than decide on their behalf. It feels like a very balanced approach.

Our PODs, which are short courses and training opportunities for skills development, are programmed by talking to young producers about what they want to focus on. Upcoming ones are tour management and podcasting, and they’ve come from young people telling us that’s what they want to develop their skills in.

Being led by young people is just the right approach. Young people deserve to have their voices heard. That’s a responsibility that youth charities should take very seriously and facilitate in a way that’s confidence building for young people. All these things become positive experiences that filter into well-being, mental health, and promoting agency in your own life.

What’s coming up next for AMP after this rebrand?

The release of the report Gone In The Air is going to happen in February, which we’re really excited about. It was research conducted last year with music organisations all around England that work in rural, isolated areas. It’s a follow up to a 2015 report, to see what has changed, or what barriers have become greater for young people living in rural areas to access music opportunities.

We’ve got an online concert with the Orchestra of Opera North recorded in Skipton Town Hall for Key Stage 2 that we will be making available to schools across the country from the end of February through to May. And we’ve got an early years tour with Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and SAA-uk across North Yorkshire. We have many bespoke projects taking place around North Yorkshire, a six-month conducting placement for two young women conductors with mentorship from Katrina Marzella, and three conferences delivered in partnership with national organisations coming up, so it’s going to be a busy year!

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