The BRIT Trust was established in 1989 by UK record labels and the wider music community. Its founding mission was to draw on the transformative power of music and the arts to do good and to enable positive life pathways for young people of all backgrounds – recognising that this can best be achieved by embracing accessibility, diversity and inclusion as key values.
Funded largely by monies raised each year by The BRIT Awards and also by the annual Music Industry Trust awards dinners (MITS), The BRIT Trust has to date made more than 230 grant commitments totalling over £27 million to a wide range of causes and charities that inspire people to realise their full potential and life chances, whatever their abilities, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.
The BRIT School
A passionate commitment to promoting education and community engagement through the social value of music and creativity has informed The BRIT Trust’s approach to much of its work over the past three decades. An early focus that remains as strong to this day was the music industry’s desire to help establish and promote a music and creative arts-led school that is free for students to use and which can nourish our music and creative industries with a pipeline of diverse young talent.
The BRIT School was born shortly after the famous Knebworth concert of 1990 where the entire line-up of music royalty from Dire Straits and Elton John to Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney and Pink Floyd generously performed for free, to support The BRIT Trust. Some thirty years later, the Croydon-based performing arts and technology school has benefitted from £14 million of BRIT Trust funding – and can take pride in having produced over 10,000 alumni, the vast majority of whom have gone on to enjoy highly productive careers in music, the arts and the wider creative industries. Among these are such celebrated former pupils as musicians Adele, Leona Lewis and Loyle Carner, to name just a few, as well as household names in film and TV such as Blake Harrison, Tom Holland and Cush Jumbo. The BRIT School and its students have made an enormous contribution to the UK culturally and economically, helping to boost its global standing in the process.
Another important relationship forged over its three decade history, and supported through long-term BRIT Trust funding of £8 million, is one with Nordoff Robbins – the UK’s leading independent music therapy charity whose highly skilled therapists are able to draw on the healing power of music to enrich the lives of people of all ages, with life limiting illnesses, disabilities and feelings of isolation.
Supporting Careers in the Creative Industries for All
The BRIT Trust’s abiding commitment to supporting music, arts and technology education has also found expression through funding for a brand new theatre and production space for East London Arts and Music (ELAM) – the games design, music and film and television college for 16-19 year olds situated in East London – as well as through financial backing for the BPI’s BRITs Apprentice Scheme, which since 2018 has each year given up to 10 individuals from diverse backgrounds looking to start out in the music business a high quality, paid opportunity to fast-track their careers with small-to-medium independent music companies.
Whilst its guiding principles remain the same, in more recent years, and reflective of the growing acknowledgement of its importance within music and society more generally, the Trust has broadened its educational remit to also incorporate mental health and wellbeing. The Trust has thus been able to give vital help to a number of charities that do incredibly value work in this space. Charities such as Mind, which has developed programmes to encourage awareness of mental wellbeing in the workplace, and Music Support, which provides counselling for those that work in music who may struggle with addictions or with demands placed on them by their careers. Key4Life, which helps young men in prison or at risk of going there to find more positive life pathways by drawing on their love of music and by supporting them with mentoring and work placements is another example of a charity that the Trust has been able to make a difference to – the charity claims that typical re-offending rates of around 65% come down to little over 15% for those who are exposed to its programme of structured support.
Updating The Trust
The Recorded Music Business may be at the Trust’s core, but its Board and Committees reflect a broad spectrum of the music industry, with Trustees representing the UK’s major and independent record labels and distributors, record labels association the BPI, and the music publishing, management and live sectors.
A number of changes to update the structures and processes of The Trust in line with best practise governance and the seven key principles of the Charity Governance Code have been introduced within the last year. In particular, work has been undertaken to further optimise the make up, tenure and size of the board of trustees.
A more recent development is a dedicated Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee chaired by trustee Mulika Sannie. The committee works alongside other BRIT Trust committees that ensure improved operational accountability and transparency. These include the Audit Regulation & Compliance Committee (ARC), Grant Committee, Finance Committee and PR Committee.
With particular challenges brought about by the COVID pandemic, the vital work of the Trust, now led by newly-appointed Chair Tony Wadworth CBE, its Trustees and partners is as important as ever. The Trust will be there to meet these challenges. And it will do so by staying true to its founding principles of empowering people of all backgrounds through music and the creative arts and by supporting education and wellbeing charities that inspire them to realise their full potential and life chances, whatever their background.