AWARD-WINNING music studios will reopen with a new name in new premises and a vision to transform the lives of disadvantaged young people across North Wales.
The former Vic Studios has rebranded as Wrexham Sounds and moved from the town’s Hill Street to Rhosrobin.
A not-for-profit social enterprise, the studio will provide music-based sessions to children from challenging and socially deprived backgrounds, lessons to those unable to access them at school and offer support and guidance to young local talent.
All this will take place in a revamped facility, supported by a group of volunteers who have steered the organisation through the Covid-19 pandemic while structuring a new business model that will secure the future of the organisation for many years to come.
Director Dave Gray said: “We’ve come through an incredibly tough time and haven’t been able to deliver any of our normal services since March of last year because of the pandemic – our earnings just dried up.
“To survive, we had to make some difficult financial decisions which impacted the team, as well as changing the way we operate to make it more sustainable over the long term, putting marketing and fundraising at the heart of the business and using freelancers and partners to deliver all our services.
“That allows us to offer work opportunities to a wider network of Wrexham’s creative talent who can help deliver our mission, which is to transform the lives of young people through music.”
At the helm of Wrexham Sounds is General Manager Olivia Gallagher, who cannot wait to open the doors this September after an 18-month hiatus.
The 25-year-old has a background in marketing and fundraising and is confident taking a fresh direction will prove popular with referral organisations and families in the region and beyond.
“My main task is to rebuild relationships with clients after such a long break, making sure they understand what we have to offer and the benefits of working with us,” she said.
“I will also be organising the freelance tutors and volunteers who will in future be responsible for teaching, coaching and supporting our service users.
“We have children and teenagers referred to us from a range of local agencies, from social services to charities and care providers, many of whom have little or no access to any music-related activities in school.
“Those we work with at our new facility or elsewhere will largely be vulnerable or from challenging backgrounds. They may have been excluded from education or be in care, so this could have the potential to make a real difference to their lives, building confidence, giving them the chance to express themselves, gain accreditation and have fun in a safe and welcoming environment.
“And for those who are more interested in music technology there are sessions on recording, production, filming and more.”
Olivia added: “Ultimately, we want to let the people of Wrexham and everyone that supported Vic Studios in the past know that we are back, and passionate about helping children who felt isolated and alone through the Covid-19 pandemic – we are here to serve our community.
“As well as referral sessions we will also be offering after-school music lessons in a range of instruments at all grades, and music sessions for toddlers and infants to help fund our social aims. It’s a completely new chapter for us – we can’t wait to get started.”
Vic Studios was originally a council-funded project which ran for 10 years, before it was rescued from closure in 2016 by a group of volunteers who have gone on to make significant changes to its services and increased the diversity of its users – moving from a mostly male audience to involve more females.
“When we reopen as Wrexham Sounds our range of services, facilities and audiences will be very different from where they were in 2016,” added Dave.
Director Chris Lloyd said that as Coronavirus restrictions ease, they will look to ramp-up the volume of music activities provided to have an impact on as many young people as possible.
“During Covid we have delivered well over 100 online music sessions, but going forward that’s not a feasible option, especially when dealing with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who need one-to-one support,” said Chris.
“We aim to expand the range of lessons, activities and accredited courses we offer and with the help of partners from business and education and create opportunities for local children to develop skills and gain experience in music technology
“Our long-term goal is to become a beacon of inspiration; a role model project others will follow so disadvantaged young people across the country can benefit from the many positives music can bring.”
Fellow Director Caroline Richards added: “This is a transformative project which has been driven by the Board and our partners to bring light to the lives of those who need it most. Through music, fun and learning we want to make a difference for generations to come – as Wrexham Sounds begins this new chapter, we can do that.”
For more information or to join the team at Wrexham Sounds as a freelance tutor or volunteer, visit www.wrexhamsounds.org and follow them on social media at @wrexhamsounds.