Mike Harmina, Manager at the Vic music recording studios and social enterprise in Wrexham, has explained how National Lottery funding has enabled them to reach more people than ever before.
Vic Studios is a community based social enterprise in Wrexham that aims to help young people build confidence, skills and prospects through music.
The venue on Hill Street in Wrexham first opened its doors in 2006 and has since provided a place for musicians from acoustic acts to heavy metal bands and rappers to rehearse and record.
The project is run by Mike Harmina, from Wrexham, who is no stranger to musical talents and started his career as a music lecturer before being appointed manager at Vic Studios.
Around £10,000 of National Lottery funding awarded through the National Lottery Community Fund (formerly the Big Lottery Fund) has helped the venue run music workshops for young people from Wrexham and neighbouring counties.
The financial award has enabled the studios to create an affordable rehearsal and recording facility for young bands and musicians and for vulnerable and disengaged young people.
Each year, hundreds of young people who have been referred with behavioural, social and health needs make use of the musical sessions at the studio and take part in small group work, outreach classes and instrument tuition.
There’s also a history of local bands making use of the facilities and going on to do great things including Wrexham based pop punk band, Neck Deep, who have over half a million followers on Twitter and Instagram.
The project won the Social Enterprise Award for best New Start Up in 2016, an award which is given to businesses that contribute to society by helping to solve social and environmental issues.
Mike Harmina said: “Vic Studios is a project designed to offer local musicians affordable rehearsal and recording services. The National Lottery funding we received last year has enabled us to reach more people than ever before because we’ve been able to provide free activities for young people who wouldn’t usually have access to our facilities. We also used some of the money to buy new equipment such as turntables, amplifiers and drum equipment.
“I think the footfall speaks for itself. Since reopening in 2016, we’ve had over 7,000 visits. It’s a vital place in the local music scene and then on top of that you’ve got all the educational opportunities that we offer people that goes towards enriching their lives and increasing the impact that we are able to deliver as a social enterprise.”
In Wrexham and Flintshire alone, the National Lottery has awarded around £101m to over 4,600 good causes since it was launched 25 years ago. Charities, community groups, grassroots sports projects, arts organisations, athletes, film makers, and heritage sites have reaped rewards from the funding.
Oswyn Hughes, Head of Campaigns (Wales) for the National Lottery Good Causes, said: “Vic Studios provides a fantastic opportunity for people to enjoy music and the chance to socialise with like-minded people. Without the National Lottery support these opportunities would not be readily available.
This project is a prime example of how small amounts of funding can make a big difference to people’s lives.
“The National Lottery Lifechangers campaign aims to raise awareness of how the money it has invested to good causes has had a positive impact on communities in Wrexham and Flintshire and has provided people with amazing life-changing opportunities.”
Top pic: local band The Stems