School of Rock and Media – John Bolton & Tony Saunders
The School of Rock and Media (SORM) came into being in late 2011, launched by two people John and Tony who both shared a passion for music and for using music as a way to engage with young people in the BD5 area to give them a creative outlet for their energies, in a way not offered by more traditional youth groups. By early 2012 they had found a home at the Mapa Centre in BD5, where they developed a rehearsal space and make-shift recording studio using equipment they had gathered over the year and were seeing in the region of 30 young people a week for their youth group sessions.
Through work being carried out jointly between Bradford Trident and Mapa, enterprise coach Jonathan Smith was introduced to John and Tony as they were in the process of developing a formal business plan and needed to formalise ‘SORM’ in order to take it to the next level, several meetings followed in fairly quick succession and once the business plan had taken shape Jonathan was able to signpost John and Tony to a Social Enterprise specialist who helped them to formally establish the School of Rock and Media as a Company Limited by Guarantee. Jonathan said ‘It was clear at first meeting just how passionate John and Tony were about what they were doing and what they knew they could achieve, in fact most of the sorting out of the business plan had to be done through e.mail whilst John was recuperating in hospital from a knee operation, I draw the line at actually holding client meetings in hospitals, but that’s technology for you”.
During this time, and knowing only too well the aspirations John and Tony had, Jonathan came across a potential site ripe for development into studio space, close to Bradford City Centre; all agreed this would give the business the chance to grow in a way that could sure up the financial future of SORM in the long term and help them in their goals to reach a wider audience. They took on the space in Edward Street, just behind the Bradford Interchange, moving in mid July 2013 and set to work converting the basement of this building into recording studio and youth group space.
Due to their hard work and determination the space at Edward Street now boast 4 separate recording studios, they are seeing 3-400 people come through their doors every week, have over 1000 Facebook followers and over 50,000 Twitter followers, are recruiting staff, have expanded their offer to include vocal coaching, are working with young adults with learning and physical difficulties and bands such as Pearl Jam, as well as winning and delivering contracts for Imagineer CIC, Affinity Trust, Supported Lives, Lifeways, Youth Service, Bradford Council and more recently the DWP. They are at last managing to take (all be it minimal) wages too. John Bolton says “For all that it’s been a little while since we’ve had a formal meeting, it’s fair to say we’re in touch with Jonathan on a regular basis, who does a great job of encouraging and at times reigning in our enthusiasm, we’ve benefited enormously from the ongoing support and the local networking events that Trident put on; the last two years have been a great journey and we can be proud of all we’ve achieved, safe in the knowledge that we’re here to stay and grow, continuing to support people and help them learn and develop skills in a productive way.”
School of Rock & Media (SORM)
John Bolton and Tony Saunders