Scheme that gives more people the chance to play musical instruments is recognised with award

Today the Sir Charles Groves Prize, awarded by Making Music for outstanding contribution to the musical life of communities in the UK, was presented to Creative United’s ‘Take it away’ scheme, an initiative designed to make it easier and more affordable for people to buy musical instruments of all kinds. 

Since its original inception as an Arts Council initiative 11 years ago, the 'Take it away' scheme has helped over 80,000 children and young people in England and Northern Ireland have access to musical instruments through £60m in interest free loans. Now operated by Creative United in partnership with Omni Capital Retail Finance, the scheme has recently been broadened to offer interest free loans to customers of all ages, opening up leisure-time music making to even more people.

Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive of Making Music, presented the award to Creative United’s Chief Executive Mary-Alice Stack, on the performance stage at the Music and Drama Education Expo in London. 

Barbara Eifler said:

‘Take it away was an obvious choice for our Sir Charles Groves Prize. The scheme has always been a great help to young people and parents buying instruments for their children. By extending their offering of interest free loans on instrument purchases to over-25s, Creative United have significantly broken down one of the main barriers – cost – to adults taking up or returning to an instrument. The extension will enable more adults to take part in musical activity, and enjoy the now well-documented benefits this can bring to their lives and their community.’

Mary-Alice Stack said:

“We are extremely proud and honoured that the impact and value of Take it away has been recognised by the awarding committee of the Sir Charles Groves Prize. We are absolutely delighted to have received this prestigious award, and hope that we can use this opportunity to raise awareness of the scheme and inspire even more people across the UK to get involved in learning and playing music.”

The scheme works with participating music shops to offer everything from 'traditional' instruments like the violin, clarinet, guitar and piano to contemporary equipment like synthesizers, drum machines, recording equipment, plus additional items such as cases, strings, reeds, sheet music or even tuition, if the shop offers it.


For more information contact Barbara Eifler, Chief Executive at Making Music

Making Music, 8 Holyrood Street, London SE1 2EL.
0207 939 6030

Notes to editors

•    The Take it away scheme is a Creative United programme, backed by Arts Council England and Arts Council of Northern Ireland. ‘Take it away’ is operated by Creative Sector Services CIC (trading as Creative United), in partnership with Omni Capital Retail Finance.

Take it away was originally launched as an Arts Council England initiative in 2007, and available on an ‘open to all’ basis for UK customers purchasing musical instruments through a network of participating stores across England. The scheme was subsequently extended to include retailers in Northern Ireland with the support of Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

Since 2011, Arts Council England’s investment in the programme has focused exclusively on supporting access to musical instruments for use by children and young people up to the age of 25. However, in August 2017, the initiative was re-launched by Creative United in partnership with Omni Capital Retail Finance offering interest free finance under the Take it away brand for customers of all ages purchasing musical instruments and associated equipment, accessories, software and other services through a network of member retailers across England and Northern Ireland. 

Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s investment in the scheme continues to operate on an open to all basis for customers that are resident in Northern Ireland.

Please note that figures quoted in this release reflect the total reach and impact of the scheme across the UK for the 11 year period June 2007 – March 2019.

•    The Sir Charles Groves Prize is awarded every two years in memory of the conductor, composer and former president of Making Music. 

•    Since 1935, Making Music has championed leisure-time music groups across the UK with practical services, artistic development opportunities and by providing a collective voice for its members. We now represent over 3,500 groups made up of comprising around 190,000 musicians of all types, genres and abilities. We help them run their group so they can get on with making music!



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