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RCM Accelerate start-up funding making a difference to recent graduates

Wednesday 10 November 2021

In March 2021 the Royal College of Music announced a new scheme to support graduating students launch their careers. RCM Accelerate provided significant start-up funding to eight students who graduated in July. The class of 2021 were the first to benefit from the scheme and this Global Entrepreneurship Week the RCM is proud to introduce some of this year’s projects.

The graduating class of 2021 entered the professional world at a time unlike any we have known. RCM Accelerate, run by the RCM’s Creative Careers Centre, is intended to support graduating students and help kick-start a new creative project, social enterprise, or business idea; or develop an existing initiative. The successful applicants received grant funding and will benefit from ongoing mentoring support to foster and encourage proactivity, creativity and an entrepreneurial mind-set. Royal College of Music students can access careers support throughout their studies and for up to five years after graduating, preparing them for a variety of professional opportunities.

The funding received is already being used to commission new works, establish and promote new ventures and hire relevant industry professionals. This year’s projects include ‘The 97 Ensemble’, ‘OperaEd | opera for young hearts’, 'Treephonia', and an album recording which aims to change the way music is experienced by incorporating visual art into the listening of music. Students were inspired by contemporary issues such as violence towards women, widening access to, and participation in, classical music and environmental issues. Whilst many of the students chose to focus on a musical venture, they were not limited in what they could pitch, providing they could explain their idea and demonstrate that they had a clear plan for how the funding would be used. For example, one graduate from the Bachelor of Music programme is in the process of developing an app which aims to help reduce food waste, using his funding for research, testing and server space.

Introducing some of this year’s projects

Cellist Niki Moosavi’s 97 Ensemble was inspired by discovering that 97% of women aged 18-24 have been sexually harassed. The project aims to employ freelance musicians to reach out to women who have been victims of sexual harassment or violence by giving performances in shelters, in the process introducing vulnerable women to classical music, something to which few of them will ever have been exposed. She also plans to fundraise for Solace Women’s Aid.

OperaEd – an education programme devised by Helen Cooper – sets out to inspire and educate a new generation of opera-lovers who do not currently have access to the art form. Working towards a world where opera is accessible to everyone, regardless of age, socio-economic or ethnic background, the project includes fun immersive workshops, performances and resources for teachers to use in their own classrooms.

Robert Finegan identified a gap in how music is experienced with the move towards streaming. His project involves commissioning a new body of work for harp and saxophone to be recorded and released as an EP. This will be combined with QR technology and collaborations with selected visual artists.

Hear more from some of this year's RCM Accelerate funded projects here. 

Speaking of this year’s applicants, Diana Roberts, RCM Creative Careers Centre Manager and Entrepreneurship Tutor, said: 'RCM Accelerate has been designed to support graduates in developing a business idea, creative project, or social enterprise. Through funding, mentoring, and ongoing tailored support, the eight musicians currently on the scheme are creating life-changing opportunities - not just for themselves, but also for other creators, their target audiences and customers. This year's cohort are already demonstrating that, through the power of creativity and collaboration, and with underpinning from financial and specialist support, positive change is possible'.

RCM Accelerate is also supported by violinist Nicola Benedetti and the Benedetti Foundation who said: ‘As Ambassadors for the RCM's innovative new scheme - RCM Accelerate - it is our aim to inspire upcoming graduates to confidently launch their careers. Together, through a shared belief in the transformative powers of music, passion, and diversity, we can produce positive change, and a better future.’

About the RCM Creative Careers Centre

The Creative Careers Centre is recognised internationally for the service it provides to students. Whether pursuing a career as a musician or not, students can explore their professional identity by developing new skills and building a portfolio. Extensive performance and teaching opportunities are available, as well as valuable guidance on CV and biography writing, communication skills, project management, marketing and publicity, online promotion, financial matters and how to develop a business idea.

About Global Entrepreneurship Week 2021 at the RCM

The announcement of 2021’s successful Accelerate applicants coincides with Global Entrepreneurship Week. This year, the Creative Careers Centre is hosting events including ‘In Conversation With’ interviews with graduates, and one-to-one meetings focused on CV writing, applying for funding, self-promotion and how to develop a business idea. An online event called Building my Business has been organised, where students and graduates will hear from professionals who are now founders and artistic directors at a range of organisations.

More information about how the RCM prepares its students for life beyond their studies can be found here.

Applications for the 2022 Accelerate cohort will open to final year students at the beginning of the summer term. Students wishing to find out more about RCM Accelerate and the Creative Careers Centre can visit the Creative Careers Centre pages on Learn.rcm.