The Oh Yeah Music Centre has been awarded Best Art/Sport/Community Project at the Belfast Telegraph Making The Difference Awards. The music charity took home the award at a glittering awards ceremony held in the Grand Opera House.
In October 2011, the Belfast Telegraph put out a call for nominees of individuals, community groups, schools and organisations who have made an impact in their local communities. Supported by Tesco, the Making the Difference awards give recognition to some of Northern Ireland's unsung heroes, and all awards are voted for by the public.
Oh Yeah Music Centre CEO Stuart Bailie was overwhelmed by the spirit of bravery and perseverance the team encountered when meeting the other nominees. 'It was a very emotional ceremony at the Opera House on Friday night. We came across so many exceptional people who have come good against fierce odds.'
Speaking of the Oh Yeah Music Centre's award, Bailie added: 'The Oh Yeah team is absolutely honoured with this award. We didn't feel worthy and we were surprised when Oh Yeah was chosen.'
The Centre is a charity and a social enterprise project that gives opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in music. Whether through providing rehearsal space and training or by giving space to start-up businesses, Oh Yeah offers support at every stage of a music career.
Oh Yeah's mission statement is based around a belief that 'music is one of the great resources in Northern Ireland, a catalytic agent that changes lives for the better'. It is this belief that is at the heart of the project's outreach programmes, which have provided training to disadvantaged young people in a variety of fields, including music photography, rap, drumming and DJ skills.
The ability of music to cross generational and religious boundaries has been key to the Oh Yeah Music Centre's success, and a contributing factor in their recent award.
Bailie says, 'A member of the Making The Difference organisation later said that we represented "the future". The citation mentioned our work with the all-ages, Volume Control project, our outreach work into disadvantaged communities and our new programmes with the over 50s.'
The award is a huge boost to Bailie and the Oh Yeah team, who are already thinking about future successes. 'The timing is perfect in that we're about to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our original Open Day, which took place on May 5, 2007. There's a lot to look forward to.'