Plymouth City Council – Plymouth Music Zone

Plymouth City Council's Plymouth Music Zone shortlisted for Best Arts Initiative in the Hearts for the Arts Awards 2020.


Plymouth Music Zone (PMZ) began 20 years ago with two musicians working out of a cupboard in a local school. Two decades on, it has an increasing international reputation as a flagship community music charity with a team of over 20 people passionately committed to using music to create social impact.

To date, PMZ has worked with around 70,000 children and 20,000 adults. The youngest participant being eight days old and the oldest 104 years. It has delivered 50,000 workshops and 2,000 performances to audiences of 600,000, employing 450 people during that time and bringing in a much needed £7 million into the city of Plymouth. But it’s about more than numbers – it’s about the depth and reach of the work. PMZ embeds itself in the bigger social picture working across sectors with health, social care, education and community partners, reaching up to 1,000 people a week – 95% of whom wouldn’t ordinarily engage with the arts.

PMZ musically infuses every corner of the community in places as diverse as nurseries, children’s centres, special schools, a domestic abuse refuge, psychiatric units, homeless sheltered accommodation, hospice bereavement support and other places in the community including residential settings and rehabilitation units – wherever there is identified need.

The project works with children and families who’ve experienced traumatic events and circumstances including domestic abuse, sexual violence, addiction and those navigating health challenges including dementia, brain injury and life-limiting illnesses. It also helps tackle isolation by creating new musical communities for refugees and asylum seekers and, most recently, the first LGBT+ choir in Plymouth.

PMZ is a living, breathing example of a small, locally based charity that embodies compassionate, inclusive leadership that genuinely creates ways of running an organisation to enable successful engagement with a diverse range of people.

What the judges said:

‘A powerful example of arts, social care, health and enterprise working together to make a meaningful difference to lives.’

‘Plymouth Music Zone has clearly developed a cohesive community project which has had a visible, long-term impact for people in the Plymouth area. The partnerships they have forged are particularly impressive.’

Photo credit: Kevin Clifford