Raw's Revamp Summer 21. Credit: Nazmul Hoque

Hearts for the Arts 2022 – Raw Material Music and Media

London Borough of Lambeth's Raw Material Music and Media has been shortlisted for - Best Arts Project in the 2022 Hearts for the Arts Awards

Raw Material Music and Media (Raw) is a community arts and creative enterprise hub based in Brixton. The purpose-built 3-storey building hosts 2 recording studios, computer suite, DJ, music and video production equipment and a live room for performance, workshops and ensemble work. Working in close partnership with Lambeth Council, SLAM (South London and Maudsley) NHS Trust, Lambeth Sounds consortium, and Elevate Cultural Education Partnership, Raw’s specialist focus is music as a creative tool for self-expression. They have supported thousands of young people and adults to create, produce, and perform new music.

Raw spearheads many creative programmes including their award-winning Raw Sounds Programme. Raw Sounds targets young people and adults experiencing mental ill health with a range of creative participatory opportunities in sound, music, lyric writing, artist development and performance. In addition, an outreach programme called ‘In Reach’ brings Raw Sounds to hospital mental health wards across South London – this year, Raw worked with approximately 500 people in acute mental health wards.

Through the various lockdowns, like many organisations, Raw was forced to innovate the programmes by offering free online industry masterclasses, with the aim of creating access to the creative industries and demystifying creative careers for the participants. People from across the UK, and internationally, tuned into these masterclasses and RMM were asked by masterclass partner Vevo to design and deliver a special mentoring programme with them to give six young people from diverse backgrounds under represented in the creative industries, the chance to work progressively with six Vevo staff members from different departments over six months to learn about the business and develop their creative careers more generally. This mentoring programme ‘Raw Talent’ will run again next year with Vevo and another digital agency WMA in 2022.

The ethos of Raw’s creative approach is democratic and participant-led with the tutors encouraging participants to find their voices, to engage and express their experience and beliefs.

Raw works in partnership with SLAM NHS Trust to recruit and support participants – the majority are mainly service users either currently in care or who have recently come out of treatment. Raw’s participants have faced a particularly tough time during the lockdowns and rising case numbers. Many experienced personal loss, bereavement and great isolation during this period as well as the inability to access much-needed mental health services due to significantly increased demand. Raw’s work is a vital support to both the participants and the Care Teams with which they collaborate.

What the judges said:

“An innovative and unusual project doing fantastic work in hospital wards and communities in South London. The partners it has attracted are impressive and it has the ambition and potential to expand its reach and impact and become something even more inspiring.”

“The projects Raw Material Music and Media have created highlight the myriad benefits creative expression can have for those experiencing poor mental health. The breadth of activity the team have delivered during the pandemic is amazing and clearly demonstrates that what they do is vital for the wellbeing of the local community.”