The NEKO Trust, which supports the next generation of industry talent, has launched NEKO 18 with the hope of building a sustainable future for music and live events. 

The NEKO 18 programme is free for individuals to enrol, and is supported by funders including Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund. This was in response to research conducted over the last 18 months into those who are facing barriers when trying to progress their career in both music and live events. 

The research identified 18 young people who were early on in their careers from diverse backgrounds, and has now given them the opportunity to undertake a three-month programme of professional development. 

Between September and November 2021, the 18 participants (pictured) will benefit from knowledge sharing and guidance from the NEKO 18 – which is a group made up of artists, marketing specialists, graphic designers and managers, among other professionals linked to the industry. 

Glen Rowe, who is the founder of NEKO and former manager of rock band Muse, said: “The need for the NEKO 18 programme is more important than ever following the last 18 months of challenge and despair for the music and live events sectors. 

“It will allow young creatives and entrepreneurs with an idea and a collaborative nature, who may have been at risk of leaving the sector, to come together to benefit from building a network with like-minded professionals as well as mentors to guide their development.”

The participants of the three-month programme will also gain accreditation via the CLOCK Your Skills programme. This allows people to learn through working and is validated by industry professionals. 

NEKO chief executive and creative director, Mary Rose, added: “The COVID-19 pandemic represents the biggest threat to the UK’s cultural infrastructure, institutions, and workforce in a generation. 

“It is vital that we attract and retain the talent we need to ensure the music and live events industry emerges better and more resilient.” 

NEKO 18 is the first education programme from the NEKO Trust. The charity is also working with Gallowglass, which is an event crewing company in the UK and Europe, to engage with a new generation of production professionals from diverse backgrounds.

Image: Emma Swann