New Sunderland employability project helps people on path to music career - here's how to apply

A new employability project is helping people make their first steps into a music career – and it’s looking for participants.

Launched by The Bunker, in Stockton Road, the Making Music Work project gives people the opportunity to improve their musical skills, gain industry experience and develop their social skills.

Weekly group sessions cover song-writing, musicianship, music technology and the industry itself, while one-to-one sessions provide a chance to improve CVs and source work placements, as well as refine musical instrument skills.

Since the project launched in April, twelve unemployed musicians have benefited from the support, with all participants recording positive outcomes and most of those taking up work placement opportunities in local music businesses, ready to make their move into employment within the industry.

Bands session at The Bunker

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One of those participants, Sam March, 27, has been attending weekly group and one-to-one sessions and now feels he is ready for the next step in his career.

He explained: “I’ve always loved music, but i wasn’t ready to go to college to study it and didn’t have the experience to find work in the industry.

“The last few years have been difficult, but by going along to The Bunker every week, I’ve now got much more confidence and some real experience, so I can now start looking at going on to study music full-time, or find work in the industry.”

Kenny Sanger and tutor Jamie Lee

Set up in 1982, The Bunker has played an important part in cultural and economic development in Sunderland, with thousands of local musicians of all ages accessing its support and using its facilities each year.

The labyrinth of music studios, which were refurbished during lockdown, has seen an upsurge in local people young and old, attending group lessons or one to one music tuition.

Kenny Sanger, The Bunker’s Managing Director, said: “The effects of the pandemic hit the music industry hard with many local musicians either out of work, or looking for a change of career. With the industry in full flow again, plus it’s festival season, there are loads of new opportunities for people to find work.

“We’ve ran this type of project before, very successfully, so we’re looking forward to helping more local people again.”

Tutor Jamie Lee

The project, which runs until March 2023, is funded by Sunderland City council’s Community Led Local Development (CLLD) programme, which aims to provide sustainable economic opportunities and benefits to areas of Sunderland that face significant challenges.

These include social exclusion and multiple deprivation, capacity to access job opportunities, poor health or low levels of employment and entrepreneurship.

The CLLD programme brings together local communities to address the challenges and experiences that make it more difficult for some people to find a job, access training and support, or set up a new business.

Tutor Ethan Burford benefited from the Government’s KickStart Scheme last year, where young people aged 18-24 were paid during 26 week placements, and is now teaching a number of instruments to students aged between six - 76.

Jamie Lee teaching piano music

He said: “The Kickstart scheme allowed me to get more experience teaching music, which I love, but was unable to find work during the pandemic.

It gave us the chance to build our tuition service from just a few students to over 100, as more people now realise the benefits of playing a musical instrument, whether it be just for fun, to help them mentally or physically, or if they actually want a career as a musician.

“I hope I can help people who were in the same position as me, who would like to work in music, as well as those who would just like to give something new a try to build their confidence.”

How to Join

The group sessions will be held twice weekly, with one-to-one sessions available throughout the week.

The Bunker is offering a free taster session with one of a tutor on Thursday, June 30, from 1-4pm.

The taster session will give people the chance to try a number of musical instruments and find out more about the support on offer, plus the work placement and employment opportunities available in the industry.

Anyone interested is advised to call The Bunker on 0191 5671777 to book a session, or visit the Facebook page www.facebook.com/bunkeru