Crowdfunding allows new writing north to nurture the next generation of rappers

Young Writers’ City - (left to right) Anisha, Kema Kay, Adonay, Nick and Ushna
Young Writers’ City - (left to right) Anisha, Kema Kay, Adonay, Nick and Ushna

A creative scheme being delivered at Excelsior Academy in the West End of Newcastle is helping to nurture the next crop of talented North-East writers and rappers.

Young Writers’ City is a long-term and in-depth programme devised by Newcastle-based New Writing North, who for the past 20-years have been supporting writers, young and old, in the north of England to fulfil their creative ambitions.

Every week, the project brings three professional writers and musicians into the school; and spread over the year they work with over 400 young people aged between 12 - 16 years old. Now in its third academic year, the project enables young people to express their thoughts, emotions and dreams creatively.  One facet of the project has even allowed them to cut their own urban rap music track with local rapper and actor Kema Kay.

The next stage of the Young Writers’ City vision is being supported by a new citywide cultural and heritage funding scheme aimed at helping to bring community projects to life. Crowdfund Newcastle Culture has been made available through the Newcastle Culture Investment Fund, a grants programme run in partnership with Newcastle City Council and the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland.

New Writing North were recently successful in raising over £5,000 through the Crowdfund Newcastle Culture programme generating the total in 28 days from 32 donors.  They now have the resources to set up an out-of-school song writing and rap group for the young people from the school to attend. The group will help support the talented individuals who wish to take their singing and song writing to the next level outside of normal school hours.

Lizzie Nixon, Participation Manager at New Writing North, said: "Young Writers’ City allows young people to experience writing in its many forms.  Through this project we have spotted lots of young people who are very talented and very interested, and we really strive to create opportunities for those individuals to continue to develop their writing skills."

Lizzie concludes by talking about how New Writing North set up their Crowdfunding page.  She said: “It’s really easy to apply and set up the webpage that people donate through.  Be very mindful of how you tell people about the project. New Writing North made a little film so that pledgers could understand what we were Crowdfunding for, learn more about the young people we were working with, and why they wanted this sort of project to happen.  Lots of the people who visited the page were interested in investing in Young Writers’ City and we now keep them informed about the progress of the programme.”

Thoughts from the young Excelsior Academy wordsmiths (aka rappers):

Nick aged 14 said: “We perform in front of each other, which helps to build up your confidence.”

Zef aged 13 said: “It’s a good thing for people who might be shy as it brings yourself out as a person. Sometimes we go out to other places and perform our own raps to other people. My highlight was when we had the chance to go to Sage Gateshead.”

Milan aged 15, said: “We have been doing various things including song-writing, poems, raps and music-making. You get to this age where you realise a lot of things so I’m really grateful knowing that you’ve got these kind of opportunities that form you into the person that you are.”

Monika aged 15 said: “I really liked the chance to write songs and make my owns, and that is just writing about my past. I liked Young Writers because it makes me feel so comfortable about getting up on stage and bringing it on!”

Daniel aged 13 said: “We have all come together as one to share our emotions and thinking about positive things. We then rapped about it and showed everyone that you can be who you want to be and no-one can take it from you.”

Anisha aged 13 said: “We’ve been writing in groups a song about the present and the past. We joined the lyrics together and did the rap.  I really liked sharing our ideas about things from our past and things that we plan to do in the future.  I love singing and rapping.”

Cllr Kim McGuinness, cabinet member for culture and communities, said: “Crowdfund Newcastle Culture has only been running for a relatively short space of time but is already a big success. It has enabled a diverse set of projects to achieve their goals, turning ideas into reality.  These projects add more variety to the city’s already flourishing options and further build on our reputation for arts, culture and heritage.  There’s still time for groups to submit their Crowdfunder concepts and take the opportunity for their projects to have access to pledges from people eager to support them and help them to achieve their goals.”

Ellie Turner, principal advisor for culture at the Community Foundation, said: "We are delighted with the response to our partnership campaign and it shows the necessity for this type of fundraising by the diversity of the groups and ideas that have been submitted to date. We have seen educational, cultural and theatrical suggestions being made, and these are all projects that capture the imagination of both the funders and the people who pledge their own money however big or small. This way Newcastle can enjoy and experience a collection of work or events that might normally not be given a chance to be made."

For local Newcastle-based groups, projects or organisations who feel they might be eligible for Crowdfund Newcastle Culture, please visit: 

How does Crowdfund Newcastle Culture work?

The Community Foundation has committed £50k towards Crowdfund Newcastle Culture, a match funding opportunity for crowdfunding appeals through Crowdfunder UK. It is limiting each organisation to a maximum pledge of £5,000 which could make up 50% of the overall target of an organisations appeal.

There are three easy steps: establish a financial target of up to £10,000 on the Crowdfunder UK platform; once the project has raised 25% from at least five unique backers you will trigger a 50% pledge against the total target through the Crowdfund Newcastle Culture scheme. To be eligible the project must then go on to raise the full target to secure the income.

Crowdfund Newcastle Culture is a partnership project between Newcastle City Council, the Community Foundation for Tyne & Wear and Northumberland; and Crowdfunder.