Launched in 2021 by the PRS Foundation, the POWER UP programme is designed to support the Black music community across the UK. The initiative aims to respond to significant barriers facing Black music creators and industry professionals, including structural and systemic racism and injustice, workplace prejudice, marginalisation and underrepresentation, lack of visibility, economic inequality, and inequitable financial benefit.
Every year, the programme chooses 20 music creators and 20 executives and industry professionals to take part. Over the course of the year, they each receive marketing support, mentoring, access to the programme’s partners and the wider POWER UP network, and grant support of up to £15,000.
Since its launch, POWER UP has helped up to 120 participants. As part of our dedication to developing and championing the music sector here in Wales, we’re part of the cohort of supporters who back the initiative.
Yaw Owusu, Senior Manager of POWER UP, says “Creative Wales has an amazing network and is a credible organisation doing exceptional work in Wales, and so it makes sense that we partner and do this together. The passion the team have for music and improving the creative and career potential of music creators is inspiring and they fully align with our aim to ensure that Black music creators get equal and equitable opportunities.”
Black music creators and industry professionals from across all genres of music are invited to apply to the programme. Many of Wales’ most exciting up-and-coming artists have applied and taken part in POWER UP, including Lekan Latinwo, Tumi Williams, Mace The Great, L E M F R E C K, Aleighcia Scott and Kima Otung.
Yaw believes the programme is vital for young Black creators: “We are aware that for those who are based in cities and towns outside of London, those hurdles, barriers and challenges can be even greater. So, we have made it a part of our mission to ensure that the POWER UP initiative helps those people.
We have done some really important targeted work in Wales, in partnership with Creative Wales and Arts Council of Wales, that we believe has had a great impact on the music creators we have worked with – connecting them into the network, funding projects and activities, upskilling, mentoring, showcasing and more. We believe this targeted, nuanced and joined-up support is the way forward.”
We spoke to Cardiff-born-and-bred artist and presenter Aleighcia Scott – whose debut album was considered for a Grammy – about her experience with the initiative.
She says, “Being an artist from Wales – and especially a black music creative in Wales – sometimes it's harder for us to take the next step because it's not always available for us. Having POWER UP and the funding gives us the chance to be able to take our artistry to the next level where we might not have been able to do that before.”
For Aleighcia the grant has been used to fund touring, which she says helps “introduce relationships between different cities and builds bigger bridges for artists from Wales.”
Alongside the funding, Aleighcia says the business support has also been vital: “Not only do you get the grant, but you also get facilitation from mentors and workshops. I would tell anyone considering applying to 100% apply. It would take your artistry to the next level."
Now more than ever, Welsh music is on the rise, especially Black Welsh music. Some stories have hardly been told, so it's so important to be investing in those because it takes Wales to the world. We've got artists like Mace the Great and L E M F R E C K; they're going worldwide right now and taking music from Wales globally.
That’s why it’s so important for Creative Wales and the Welsh Government to back POWER UP and be part of that – to show everyone that this is Wales, and this is what we have to offer.”
I would tell anyone considering applying to 100% apply. It would take your artistry to the next level".