New Music Plus: long term evaluation shows real artistic and audience development impact

“NMP… was blue sky thinking made real.” (NMP… host organisation)

In 2009, the hub joined forces with the PRS for Music Foundation to initiate New Music Plus…, a development programme which aimed to strengthen leadership skills and cross art-form learning amongst organisations and independent producers keen to develop their approach to programming and building new audiences for new music.

Between 2009-2011, New Music Plus… supported two regional producer and ‘host’ organisation cohorts, one in London (2009/10) and the other in North West England (2010/11). These programmes had five key elements: producer training; producer mentoring, producer bursaries, co-production partnerships between producers and ‘host’ organisations, and cohort-wide Creative Circle learning and networking sessions.

At the end of 2011, we carried out some long term evaluation with 15 producers and 11 host organisations to assess NMP…’s sustained impact on participants. To do this we worked with Steve Taylor from We Work With Data, who peer reviewed our methodology and research analysis.

NMP… developed me, it developed the artists I worked with on the co-production, and it developed my host organisation. It raised the bar for us all.” (NMP… London producer)

Our findings indicate that NMP… has had a sustained impact on participating producers and host organisations alike, in four key areas:

  • Creative development
  • Audience development
  • Skills development
  • Increased resilience and sustainability

“I’m much more on it… It’s all a bit more in focus in terms of what to say yes to. Before I wasn’t too discerning… I question everything now. ‘What’s this going to do for me? Is it going to make any money? Will it develop me?’.” NMP… London producer

NMP… has clarified producers’ vision; they’re doing more ambitious, higher quality work and commissioning more new music, much of this powered by the wider NMP… network. As a result, producers have created an important new income stream, seen their audiences grow, and increased turnover and gross profit. NMP… has had an unequivocally positive impact on the producers’ business practice, increasing their resilience and financial sustainability in difficult economic times.

“NMP gave us a whole year of thinking how music could be integrated into the whole of our programming. Now it’s part of almost every public event and a key part of our future thinking – so forthcoming collections and exhibitions will have music as a key curatorial element. It’s also informing our family and schools programmes.” (NMP… host organisation)

As a result of NMP… most host organisations have retained their music programme – despite cuts to programming budgets. Even more positively, thanks to NMP… their music events are more ambitious and of higher quality, better integrated into their wider programme and now form a larger part of their strategic plans. Through their NMP… partnerships, host organisations have seen audience numbers for this work increase, along with numbers of new attenders. All host organisations plan more work with music producers and feel better equipped to do it.

We’re really pleased to see that NMP… has made a real difference to so many individuals and organisations. We learned a lot too; it was incredibly inspiring to work with such diverse, creative individuals and teams, and we’re definitely creatively renewed and wiser for having done so.

If you’d like to get inside the ‘nuts and bolts’ of the impact NMP… has had you can read the New Music Plus long term impact evaluation executive summary.

We’re looking forward to applying everything that we’ve learned over the past three years to a national New Music Plus… programme. With our partners at the PRS for Music Foundation we’re hard at work on this, and hope to go live with this later this year. If you’d like to stay in touch with these plans, you can sign up for our newsletter, or follow me on twitter.