Husband and wife dual, Dwight Jones, music producer with over 35 years experience in the music industry, and Shelita Jones, professional recording artist, are the Owners & Founders of LEAP STUDIOS. (The name is an acronym for Leicester Entertainment Arts & Performance Studios.) From the start of LEAP Studios in 2018, it has opened it’s doors as a commercial business, but has found itself also teaching and training people of all ages who have interest in music production. Training and volunteering slowed down and almost halted completely when it became almost financially impossible to take on. In order to keep the business afloat, the focus moved primarily to paying customers. The recording studio closed it's doors on the training and expanded it's services from recording and music editing to media arts services and live streaming. It wasn't long however, before they were approached by Highfields Community Association and the YES Project in 2019 to act as a delivery partner to teach Media Arts to young people ages 16-24. Dwight & Shelita were excited about this opportunity. The programme was funded so they would be able to do what they love in addition to their regular business operations. They brought in two more professionals to help deliver the training and have since taken on more students from other organisations.
LEAP Studios has expanded their programmes to include training in media arts, music production and live streaming and now primarily tailor their programmes for young people ages 16-24. These programmes are accessible via partnerships with the YES PROJECT and select colleges who also utilise LEAP's freelance opportunities.
The staff and volunteers at LEAP absolutely love what they do and have come to realise the great demand for the specialised training they have to offer. There seems to be a non intentional neglect for opportunities offered to young people that give "real life" work experience within the ARTS. Much of it is due to the need to understand the industries that involve these skills, in order to provide the opportunities. Art may be widely appreciated from a consumer perspective, but it is greatly misunderstood from a career perspective. in many ways it is overlooked.
The owners of LEAP Studios want to create solution to this issue by establishing a hub that is centred around the idea of an"arts haven" that offers experience training, as well as work opportunities within the areas of Music Production, Graphic Design, Social Media Advertising, Live Streaming Services as well as Video & Photography Services. That is when a previously shelved idea of XVI Bars came back into view.
Dwight's original idea behind XVI Bars, was primarily focusing on young males with an interest in Hip Hop music. While the original concept was great, we didn't want to set such a limitation on our services when we could clearly see the greater need. The idea grew from there and now includes young people drawn to music, media and art.
XVI Bars will hire their own onsite professionals who specialise in specific art centred fields. They will work directly with our programme participants, allowing them to shadow them in the professional environment and participate in various projects in order to gain real experience in their areas of interest. All this will be available to participants while they are studying and/or after completing their courses. We will also have training available to those considering any of these career paths, so they can determine based on the exposure gained, whether or not to pursue their interests as an actual career via furthering education etc. In addition, we will make the recording studios available for leisure to young people who have interest in music as an artist and/or hobby. This will be in addition to offering studio services to customers.
As stated above, each student will have available to them, onsite training, real projects to execute (paid and unpaid) and professional up-to-date equipment to use at their leisure (subject to availability) to explore and work independently on. The overall vision is to see a buzz of young people working on various projects for a variety of organisations, specifically targeting charity and non-profit organisations.
All young people participating in our programmes will learn how to work as a team as well as independently. There will be a necessity to build relationships and work with other participants and professionals from other departments/areas in order to complete projects. There will also be times when they are required to complete specific tasks alone. We will teach them professional conduct when communicating with clients and how to arrange and host meetings in order to seek & fulfil the needs of their clients. Teams will create marketing campaigns, produce radio ads, flyers etc. This means having to communicate with others in order to get the job done.
There is so much that could be gained from such a programme like this, and we are excited to bring into the community something that is fresh, young and inspiring. "No one left behind", must include the Arts and the careers attached to them.
In order to attract potential clients and encourage them to utilise our young people and services, all products and services would be offered free of charge or heavily discounted. This will attract clients and insure we have plenty of projects and assignments to meet the training and work experience demand. Our main targeted market will be other youth organisations and charities with limited budgets in need of marketing and advertisement services. However, we will be available for corporate establishments as well.
The funding initial raised would go towards helping us to secure a larger building to expand our programmes. It would also assist in the costs for outfitting the building, purchase of equipment, and running costs for the first two years. In order for this programme to be successful, we will be relying heavily on sponsorship's and grants. Securing many of these grants will be based on our ability to show it’s success. We have set a two year deadline to gather the data and evidence which will be logged and captured via documentation, video/photo evidence, participant & client testimonies etc. While we have proven success with our previous and current students, it has not been delivered on this scale. We need supporters of the ARTS to help us take this initial step towards proving our programmes can successfully help bridge the gap between education, training and career within the arts industries.