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Barnsley-based company takes on more staff in response to growing popularity of brass bands

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A Barnsley-based company is set to appoint three new staff in response to growing demand for its role in supporting brass bands across England.

Brass Bands England is a not-for-profit company which provides a range of services to hundreds of bands across the country.

The charity, which was set up in 2012, is advertising for two liaison and development officers to cover the midlands and the southern counties and an operations co-ordinator who will be based in Barnsley.

Work on developing the job descriptions for the three new posts has been supported by Enterprising Barnsley, a European-funded programme delivered by Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Brass Bands England’s liaison and development officer Rachel Veitch-Straw said: “There is currently so much interest in brass band music and we are seeing more and more bands looking for business and artistic support.

“In my present role I offer support to hundreds of bands across England and it can be very time consuming. Having two new liaison officers will enable us to vastly improve our service to our members.

“It will also be a great help to have an additional pair of hands in the office, as this will free up my time to have face-to-face meetings with the bands.”

Brass band music got the thumbs up from Arts Council England in 2012 when Brass Bands England became one of its regularly funded organisations. This helped put the organisation on stronger financial footing and placed brass band music firmly on the cultural map.

One of the organisation’s aims is to attract new learners, both young and old.

“We have 60 competing bands in Yorkshire, as well as many non-competing bands, and we feel passionately about recruiting young people and encouraging adults to learn to play, or come back to playing,” said Rachel.

“We also want to look at the best ways of supporting young players and retaining them when they reach key transition points, such as going to secondary school, or leaving home and starting a family.”

A local initiative, through the Loxley training band, has also seen adults being supported by more experienced teenagers.

“It’s a real joy to see a 17 year old girl showing a 35 year old woman how to play a cornet,” said Rachel.

“We find that a lot of women aged 35-50 are looking for new activities which will give them more ‘me’ time, and brass banding seems to fit the bill.”

Brass Bands England runs regular funding workshops, and provides consultancy and support on issues such as child protection.

It also offers services, including Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, discounts on insurance, advice on funding applications and is negotiating deals on discounted travel and new instruments.

Conscious of the wide geographical spread of its members, Brass Bands England aims to improve accessibility to networking events by live web-streaming, so that people can benefit remotely wherever they live.

Rachel has also passed on ideas about how to gain a profile in the media and use social media as a result of attending an Enterprising Barnsley workshop.

“We have had fantastic support from Enterprising Barnsley which has really helped us to achieve our aims,” said Rachel.

“They are always there for us, supporting and giving advice, and we have made so many useful contacts.”

Brass Bands England’s headquarters are in Stocks Lane, Barnsley. The company has a 40 year history under its former title, the British Federation of Brass Bands and it renamed and became a limited company in 2012. Local businessman and brass bander Mike Kilroy became its chairman in 2013.

Enterprising Barnsley business development manager Andy Arnold said: “Brass Bands England is going from strength to strength and it’s great to be able to play our part in its development.

“There is clearly a real demand from young people and adults who want to learn a new instrument and see brass bands as a way of joining an established community of musicians. Long may it continue.”

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Brass Bands England national liaison officer Rachel Veitch-Straw

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