The official charity of the BRIT Awards and of the BPI and wider recorded music industry – The BRIT Trust – this week celebrates its 30th birthday with the news that it has now distributed £26.5 million to a range of worthy causes since it was first set up in 1989.
The BRIT Trust receives its monies from The BRIT Awards, The Classic BRITs, both of which are charity shows, as well as the annual fundraising dinner the MITs (Music Industry Trusts Award), which started in 1991.
The Trust’s long-time mission has been to promote education and wellbeing through music, and over three decades it has provided thousands of young people of all backgrounds, many of whom have gone on to successful careers, with extensive opportunities in the music and creative industries.
The biggest beneficiaries are the unique free School for Performing Arts & Technology, The BRIT School in Croydon and Nordoff Robbins, the leading independent music therapy charity in the UK. Since 1989 The BRIT Trust has donated close to £15 million to The BRIT School alone, which, beyond monies raised from the most recent BRIT Awards and MITs dinner, also includes a major donation in regard to upcoming capital projects.
In addition, amongst a number of fund-raising events and private, individual gifts, there was a separate donation from YouTube Music. This will allow for a complete refurbishment of the School’s existing TV, film and media production suite to feature state-of-the-art equipment, including a 16 channel audio desk, three studio cameras, playback screens and monitors.
The BRIT School also fosters a unique relationship with Apple, and over 150 students have performed in its London stores as part of the Today At Apple programme, which focuses on education, creativity and community – aligning with The BRIT School’s and the Trust’s core values.
Beyond The BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins, the Trust has also made donations to a wide range of other good causes. These include mental health charity Mind – which in 2018 was presented with a cheque for £200,000 (accepted by musician George Ezra as its patron) to promote mental health in schools and in the music industry. Other charities to benefit over three decades include War Child, Save The Children, Key4Life, Chicken Shed, The Prince’s Trust, Music Support (of which Robbie Williams is the patron), DrugWise and many more. The Trust has also supported two other educational establishments that are involved with creative industry education, including Birmingham Ormiston Academy and ELAM Academy (East London Arts & Music).
The Trust additionally fosters a number of other initiatives. Together with The BRIT School, BRIT Kids has now been running successfully for over 18 years and annually trains more than six hundred 8-to-18 year olds in London and Corby, and last month The Trust and the School announced a new commercial and fundraising venture, BRIT for Business, which draws on the experience and knowledge of respected business coaches and trainers that have developed a connection with the school over the past 25 years – to create a unique training offer for ambitious businesses looking to develop their talent creatively.
The BRITs Apprentice Scheme – launched in January 2018 by the BPI and funded in large part by The BRIT Trust with monies raised through The BRIT Awards – gives ten people from diverse backgrounds in England and Wales a unique high-quality paid opportunity to work in the music industry, gain a grounding and develop their digital marketing and business administration skills.
Chairman of The BRIT Trust, John Craig OBE, said,
“At the Trust we recognise how important it is to provide opportunities for young people to express their creativity, often through music. More than ever, in today’s society, it is critical to give students life skills that convert into jobs. Over the last four years, 99% of students leaving the School have either gone into higher education or jobs within the creative economy which is growing faster than any other sector.
“Over £25 million is an extraordinary figure made possible by all the artists who have appeared at the BRIT Awards over the years, the acts who performed at Knebworth 29 years ago and all who have performed at the MITS dinners. This sum has only been made possible through their generosity of spirit and the Trust works hard, and will continue to do so, to ensure that as many young people as possible can benefit at a time when the social, cultural and economic importance of the arts in this country are under threat.”
Jason Iley, Chairman & CEO, Sony Music UK and Ireland, and outgoing BRIT Awards Chairman, said:
“The BRIT Trust has been making a hugely positive contribution to society for three decades and during my tenure as BRITs Chairman I got a real insight into the magnitude of work and the difference that their fundraising makes towards people's lives. I am particularly proud to have been able to support Mind last year in their efforts to educate and help raise awareness around mental health.”
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said:
“The BRIT Trust embodies the passionate belief at the BPI, among labels and right across the music industry, that music is a powerful force for good. Over 30 years, it has channelled more than £25 million raised by The BRIT Awards, the MITs and other activities, to a range of fantastic charities promoting education and careers, diversity, wellbeing and healing through music. I wish a hugely well-deserved ‘Happy Birthday’ to The BRIT Trust, and we will continue to support it in its vital work changing lives through the wonderful power of music.”
Maggie Crowe OBE, Events & Charity Director BPI & BRIT Awards, said:
“It’s hard to imagine where The BRIT School and Nordoff Robbins would be without the commitment of The BRIT Trust, but many smaller charities, ranging from DrugsWise to Chickenshed have also been given lifelines that have made a real difference to the thousands of young people they benefit. John Craig, his predecessors and all the trustees that have generously given their time over many years deserve huge recognition and thanks, and I am proud to have been a part of this truly collective effort by all parts of the music industry.”
BRITs Icon and Music Support Patron, Robbie Williams, said:
"Music entertains, inspires and moves us, but it also has a tremendous capacity to heal - to lift us when we are down and to make us feel that we are not alone. That's why I am so passionate about the work of Music Support in tackling mental health and addictions issues around music, and why I am so grateful for the backing the charity receives from The BRITs and The BRIT Trust."
Eric Mtungwazi, Managing Director, Music Support, said:
“We are tremendously grateful and proud to be associated with The BRIT Trust. It has shown great vision in its willingness and commitment in enabling charities such as ours that are concerned with the emotional and mental health and wellbeing of people working in the music industry. Music Support would like to join the rest of the industry in congratulating The BRIT Trust on its 30th anniversary and on its impact on vital causes. We wish it many more years of making a difference where it matters most.”
Eva Hamilton MBE, Founder and CEO, Key4Life, said:
“The BRIT Trust has been an incredible supporter of Key4Life. Much of what the charity has achieved since it started in 2012 simply would not have been possible without their funding. In addition, given that music is an integral part of the programme helping young men in prison or at risk, the relationships they have opened up for us in and around the music industry have been critical.”
Nordoff Robbins CEO Julie Whelan said:
“The BRIT Trust has been one of Nordoff Robbins’ longest standing supporters. Their generous funding over the years has allowed us to use the power of music therapy to enhance the lives of thousands of people with life-limiting illnesses, disabilities and feelings of isolation. In the last four years alone we’ve been able to double the number of people we’re supporting to 10,000 - we couldn't have done this without the amazing support of The BRIT Trust.”
The BRIT School was set up in 1991 and remains the only non-fee paying secondary school in the UK delivering specialised performing arts training in the UK. Since then over 9,000 students have passed through its doors including musicians and singers ranging from Adele, Katie Melua to Jessie J, Ella Eyre and Loyle Carner and 2019 hot picks Freya Ridings, Jade Bird and Octavian; to actors such as Tom Holland (Spiderman), Cush Jumbo (The Good Wife) and Ashley Thomas (24:Legacy).
Stuart Worden, Principal, The BRIT School, said:
“Happy Birthday BRIT Trust. Over the past 30 years your passionate support for The BRIT School has benefitted thousands of young people; from the household names who tour the world, are on our screens and on our stages to many unsung heroes working in music, theatre, film and the arts. The BRIT Trust has been our greatest friend and transformed lives and made dreams come true. Not only is the School grateful for their commitment to championing music and education but the whole country too”.
Recording artist and BRIT School alumnus, Jade Bird, said:
“When I first went to a BRIT talk (wanting to get in that year), they said ‘if you’re the kid that listens to music on the train home from playing it all day in class then you belong here’. It strikes me how important it is to have somewhere like this funded by the BRIT Trust for people like us - who live and breathe art, not numbers."