Media Release: New report reveals positive impact of Youth Music Initiative for young people in the Polmont


A NEW report published recently reveals the positive and wide reaching impact on young people in Polmont, of the Youth Music Initiative (YMI).

Funded by the Scottish Government and administered by Creative Scotland, the YMI was established in 2003 in response to the What’s Going On? report – a national audit of youth music in Scotland – to ‘put music at the heart of young people’s lives and learning’.

The Coco Music Project is run by Impact Arts liaising with Barnardo’s Polmont and takes place in Her Majesty’s Young Offenders Institution Polmont. The programme offers music provision to young men in custody through group work, individual sessions and master classes. Participants are encouraged to build a repertoire of music and work towards a final performance to friends and family.

The environment of the Young Offenders Institution is unusual and unmatched by anything in the community. The programme’s music tutors are specifically chosen for their knowledge, experience and ability to work with potentially challenging young people, and receive extensive training.

There is a high demand and excellent turn-out for the programme. The young men feel the sessions offer a much needed addition to their week, and help their health and wellbeing. The Coco Music Project also stimulates a real interest in music, so much so that the young men would like to develop this further and continue their music making.

Fiona Doring, acting director, Impact Arts, said: “Impact Arts has really valued the opportunity to work with Polmont Young Offenders Institute, Barnardos and Creative Scotland on the Youth Music Initiative.

“We’ve been able to engage a group of vulnerable young men through a programme of creative music classes which have taught them band and DJ skills, along with improving their confidence and team work.

“Several of the young men have achieved their Arts Awards which will improve their future chances of progressing to further education or employment.

“The next phase of the programme will take place in a fantastic purpose built performance space in the prison. This will enable families to visit and engender a sense of pride, which is invaluable for repairing relationships.”

The Report, A Retrospective and 2014/15 Evaluation of the Youth Music Initiative, commissioned by Creative Scotland to explore the impact of the nationwide YMI programme to date, was undertaken by ODS Consulting.

The evaluation explored outcomes of the YMI through 12 project case studies across Scotland including Coco Music Project, and discussions with young people and practitioners; survey responses from over 700 teachers and over 200 funded organisations; in-depth interviews with over 30 funded organisations, and a review of reported outcomes through end of project forms submitted by funded projects.

Key findings from the evaluation show that since then, the programme has:

  • enabled young people across every local authority to take part in 300 projects each year covering all musical genres and teaching methods
  • engaged an estimated 150,000 young people in school based music making, and 76,000 in activity out of school (2014/15)
  • created over 1,000 jobs and more than 1,000 trainee opportunities (2014/15)
  • supported 2,200 people through training or career long personal development (2014/15)

Leonie Bell, director, Arts and Engagement at Creative Scotland, said: “Creative Scotland is committed to creative learning and ensuring everyone can access and enjoy artistic creative experiences. This evaluation provides positive confirmation of the special contribution the YMI programme is making by putting music at the heart of young people’s lives and learning.

“YMI provides valuable opportunities for Scotland’s young people to express themselves and achieve their potential in or through music making. Particular thanks and credit should be given to the committed, expert and passionate teachers and practitioners who skillfully and energetically support young people in their music making every day across the country.

“Our continuing strong partnership with all thirty two of Scotland’s local authorities enables the YMI to have a truly national reach. We look forward to working with YMIs many partners to share learning from this evaluation, build upon the success and to continually improve the programme for the benefit of Scotland’s young people.”

With an annual budget of £10 million, by the end of 2015/16, Scottish Government funding support for the programme will be £117.5 million.

Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, said: “The Scottish Government is committed to widening access and participation in the arts to everyone in Scotland. This evaluation shows that YMI is doing that, bringing music to a wider audience and helping to create a Fairer Scotland.

“This evaluation shows that YMI has an incredible reach, engaging with over 225,000 young people in and out of school over the last year, and engaging with groups which might otherwise only have limited opportunities to get involved in music making.

“It’s already supported a number of work opportunities and potential career pathways, with over 1,000 jobs and 1,000 trainee and volunteering opportunities supported over the last year, and over 2,200 people benefiting from training or career development.”

The full evaluation can be viewed here:


For media enquiries please contact:

Helen Sim
Media Relations & PR Assistant
Creative Scotland
T: 0131 523 0019
M: 07801 226605

Notes to editors:

  1. Youth Music Initiative YMI was established in 2003 to put music at the heart of young people’s lives and learning, in response to the ‘What’s Going On?’ evaluation, a national audit of youth music in Scotland. Creative Scotland administers the Scottish Government’s Youth Music Initiative (YMI) programme which works to: Create access to high quality music making opportunities for young people aged 0 – 25, particularly for those that would not normally have the chance to participate; enable young people to achieve their potential in or through music making; support the development of the youth music sector for the benefit of young people.
  2. Creative Scotland is the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries across all parts of Scotland on behalf of everyone who lives, works or visits here. We enable people and organisations to work in and experience the arts, screen and creative industries in Scotland by helping others to develop great ideas and bring them to life. We distribute funding provided by the Scottish Government and the National Lottery. For further information about Creative Scotland please visit Follow us @creativescots and
  3. ODS Consulting ODS provides consultancy and support to improve policy and strengthen communities. To find out more contact Katy MacMillan on 0141 424 3765/ W:

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