Project snapshot

Property rebuild
To improve social impact through music and cultural heritage

The cause

Inner City Music is an award-winning charity that exists to celebrate music and its power to engage, inspire and unify. In their venue, Band on the Wall, and through their wider programmes and activities, they enable all people to discover, explore, enjoy and participate in the best music from around the world.

Band on the Wall has been at the heart of Manchester’s cultural and music landscape for more than a century. While making a name for itself for bringing the finest jazz, folk, blues and international music to Manchester, Band on the Wall became central to the town’s famed post-punk scene in the late 1970s when Buzzcocks, The Fall and Joy Division played some of their earliest gigs at the venue.

Since 2019, Inner City Music has delivered a programme of learning and participation activities called World of Music. The programme uses music as a tool for engagement with social and cultural heritage and identity, focussing on the migrant communities of Manchester, while tackling loneliness and providing enjoyment and mental and physical wellbeing for all ages.

Despite its cultural significance, in 2014 a full review concluded that the building was too small to support a live music venue without substantial subsidy. 

Our support

The charity embarked on a six-year, £3.5 million project to transform the building to truly make it the best showcase music venue of its scale in the UK, expanding its capacity with new learning spaces and opening a second venue for emerging artists.

Alongside financial support from funds such as the Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, CAF Venturesome provided social investment to ensure the project achieved its goals.

In 2019, CAF Venturesome offered Inner City Music a £200,000 unsecured loan to initiate the pre-construction enabling works in spring 2020. Only £50,000 of this was used before the project was paused due to the pandemic, with the remaining amount recycled back into our fund.

Construction began in November 2020 and in 2021 we offered a new social investment of £250,000 consisting of a £150,000 loan and a £100,000 standby facility. This standby facility provided the flexibility to protect against future uncertainties around building costs, construction delays and other unexpected complications.

Band on the Wall venue

The impact

The construction work is now complete and Band on the Wall officially re-opened its doors to the public in March 2022.

Along with the transformation of the building, Inner City Music has transformed the organisation, refocussing its mission on celebrating the music of all the diverse communities of the UK. They aim to be a truly inclusive and international facing music venue and provide opportunities for local communities to get involved in music making and produce accessible digital content to educate people online.

Activities, which are often subsidised or free to attend and with instruments provided, include:

  • Choirs for adults and children
  • Music workshops and clubs
  • Programmes of music lessons and performances for teenagers
  • School visits to learn about the heritage of the building and neighbourhood, musical and cultural traditions and careers in the arts
  • Six-month paid internships
  • Lunchtime concert series
  • Artist residencies to celebrate local unsung musical histories
  • Archiving activities to preserve the history of the venue and raise awareness of the positive cultural impact of migrant communities and how music tells our history

Inner City Music has also partnered with The Manchester College to operate as a pathway for students into the music industry by providing venue space, access to specialists and performing artists, work experience opportunities and a range of classes and activity programmes.

Band on the Wall performance

Inner City Music’s transformation project has enabled:

  • The restoration of a culturally significant and historic heritage building
  • Improved support for emerging artists from migrant communities and international artists who previously did not have access to such opportunities
  • An increase in exposure to international music and talent and cultural learning for the local community in Manchester
  • An increase in social impact through its new learning spaces, enabling children and young adults to take up formal musical training at subsidised rates (also supported through the Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund)

“CAF Venturesome was a perfect partner and critical friend throughout the process of developing and funding our project. We found their in-depth analysis and due diligence to be helpful and, with support from their highly professional and capable team, encouraged us to critically test our own assumptions in a positive way. The CAF Venturesome approach was intelligent and refreshing and should act as a model for others considering social investment.”

Gavin Sharp, CEO of Inner City Music


Want to know more?

Talk to us today

Contact our expert team for an initial chat about social investment through CAF Venturesome.

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All images courtesy of Band on the Wall/Jody Hartley