Babylon ARTS won a national bid to deliver a rap music project with young people in East Cambridgeshire.
Beat the Rap was a project funded by Youth Music and coordinated by Babylon ARTS. It ran for twelve months over 2010/11 and gave young people the opportunity to write, record and perform rap music with professional music leaders. The project came as a result of consultation with young people and a short pilot project run with a group of disadvantaged males. Over 90 young people took part; including young travelers, attendees of pupil referral units, young offenders, students from a school for boys with emotional and behavior problems as well as a large number from rurally isolated locations.
Workshops were held every two weeks with participants able to develop ideas, peer mentor and give their views on how the project should develop. Young people were also involved in the promotion and documentation of the project.
The project produced over 30 recordings, two performances and an hour long radio show on Peterborough FM. Twenty participants achieved Arts Award or Youth Award accreditation. The success of the project was in part due to the fact that it ran over a long period allowing for the development of both skills and trust with those involved. It was also successful due to the fact that it was run by a committed team who brought a variety of strengths to the project. These included a professional rapper, arts award advisor, music producer and a youth worker who was invaluable in helping address the many personal issues that the young people expressed through their music.
As a result of this project Babylon ARTS have formed strong partnerships with several organisations as well as building links with a number of young people who wish to continue taking part in structured music activities that provide opportunities and help them develop.
All those involved have seen the power of rap as a positive outlet and focus for young people. It was an extremely rewarding project for those involved and Babylon ARTS will continue to seek funding to undertake similar work in the future.