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The music organisation educating the youth

INNNOVATIVE: Urban Development

URBAN DEVELOPMENT are a London based Not For Profit organisation that works to provide music based opportunities to young people aged 14-25, mainly of a BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) background. With a string of events and projects ahead, Urban Development are shining a light on rising talent, with alumni Devlin and Paigey Cakey.

We speak to the woman behind it all – Pamela McCormick about building her organisation from the ground up.

Q: What inspired you to launch Urban Development?

Pamela McCormick: I grew up during the troubles in 1970s Ireland, and I realised early on the lack of aspiration, positivity and motivation during that time. It really inspired me to want to go on a mission against disadvantage and think about social mobility.

I eventually moved to London, where I met quite a few hip-hop musicians in London, and they were part of the original collective that helped me create the company. They wanted to create a platform for showcasing and collaboration between UK session singers and jazz musicians, MCs and DJs. From there, the idea of a kind of education program developed, focusing on helping black and minority ethnic artists.

Q: You founded Urban Development in 2000. Since its inception, how has it developed and achieved its goal of supporting the youth and providing mentorship?

Pamela: The company has grown hugely because, our first grant was £1,000 and now our turnover is £600,000-£700,000 so the company has grown substantially. Also the original vision to help social mobility and working class young people and emerging artists hasn’t changed. But I think urban music has changed, so the content has evolved.

Q: What can people expect from attending the Industry Takeover All Dayer: College Edition?

Pamela: What we’re trying to do is create an event that we can take nationwide. So we’re going to be working in Manchester, Darby and Bristol as part of our growth plan for next year. We’re testing the model we used in London, with a day which will provide incite into the industry, how to panels, as well as exploring key parts of urban culture and signposting opportunities in different regions. So if you’re coming, you’ll learn from people who’ve done it, and meet people who can take you to the next step.

PROVIDING FOR YOUTH: Pamela is aiming to help young BAME people progress through the arts

Q: Young people are so social media savvy, and are really becoming their own A&R’s, marketing execs and artists into one. How has it been to nourish that new type of talent that encompasses it all?

Pamela: I think the democracy and access is phenomenal and for those who’ve become successful as mini entrepreneurs is great. But there is still a need for sustained development, both on the artist side and the infrastructure behind artists as its good to learn from people who’ve done that for years.

Q: I’m sure there are continuous challenges, but since it’s inception, have the challenges changed after 17 years or are they still the same?

Pamela: The challenges are always sustainability and that never goes away because we’re trying to work in the charity sector and be absolutely fit for purpose to educate, and at the top end have business partnerships in the industry. So it’s quite a challenge to function across the two worlds but we do it, and hope to continue with a stronger business model.

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