Geneva Brasswind manufactures some of the finest handmade brass instruments in the world.
We last met them in May 2021 when they had just launched the Geneva Foundation. I met with Director, Vince Eckerman to find out how it’s going.
Firstly, let’s start with a reminder.
The Geneva Foundation
The Geneva Foundation is an independent not for profit organisation. Originally set up in response to the impact the pandemic had on UK Arts at both professional and amateur levels. Its primary focus is to remove socio-economic barriers and support UK brass banding in recruiting and tutoring the next generation of brass musicians. Today, the foundation welcomes a new Chairman.
Introducing Dr Frank Renton
“The celebrated Dr Frank Renton is a British musician, conductor and broadcaster, and former host of Listen to the Band on BBC Radio 2. Dr Renton, formerly the Principal Director of music for the British army, has been appointed Chairman at the Geneva Foundation. As Chairman, he’ll work with the Foundation Manager, to turn sponsorship monies into revenue generating events.
These include sponsorship given to the Black Dyke Band, grants for UK artists and sponsorship of the Yorkshire Youth Brass Band. Our sponsorship relationships are supporting the top professional brass band artists in the UK and Europe to produce the next crop of professional musicians through our ‘Journey to Play’ plan”
Breaking Down Barriers
“There are a multitude of barriers which prevent people from playing quality brass instruments. For example, some children, aspiring to be brass musicians, are prevented due to their parent’s financial situation. Similarly, there are also many experienced musicians who lack the financial capability to buy an instrument that fits their professional performance needs. The ‘Journey to Play’ plan is addressing these challenges.”
Journey To Play
“When I was a child I loved playing music, and luckily, the local colliery paid for the instruments I played. I enjoyed performing so much that I eventually became an Army Band Master. I left in 1996 and after that, set up a series of successful businesses which eventually enabled me to invest in Geneva. With the Geneva Foundation we are trying to remove some of those socio-economic barriers. For example, our ‘Journey to Play’ programme has a flexible rental option, finance packages to suit individual needs and circumstances and a fair and honest broker approach to part exchange.”
Try Before You Buy
“We created the ‘Try Before You Buy Scheme’ in support of our retailers. The scheme provides a door-to-door service to a musician’s home, rehearsal venue or school/college.Thus enabling musicians of all standards to try out a Geneva instrument. Once purchased, the local retailer receives support funding equal to 10% of the online selling price as if the instrument had been sold from their store.”
So far, Geneva have schemes to get people playing regardless of situation, and have created opportunities that keep people playing. So, what’s next?
Digital Brass Band Community
“We are launching a brass band events app in the autumn, funded initially by the UK government. Our aim is to create an inclusive community based simply on the love of brass banding. There are over 20 brass band associations in the UK. They all promote events but rarely share data, making it difficult for users to easily find events near them. There’s also a strong focus on competitions yet not every brass band will compete. Our app will be free to use and the user chooses what they want to see. So at any given location in the UK a user will be able to easily find nearby events.”
Accessible For All
“The world of brass banding is not yet fully digital and we’re working hard to change that. We’re already seeking funding for phase two of the app development. We are developing digital signage at our retailers in Switzerland, Norway, Japan and the UK. Controlled here in Stokesley, this allows us to digitally promote the Geneva Foundation around the world. We’re committed to the sustainability of the industry by making it more inclusive and accessible for all.”
To wrap things up I asked Vince what he liked about being a tenant here on the park.
Singing of Care
“The Terry Dicken Business Park has a really nice management team. It just sings of care when you hear about landlords funding marketing activity for their tenants. It’s also good to see their own digital channels being utilised to create more opportunity for folk here on the business park.”
The new app launch is planned for September at the Scottish Brass Band open. Visit the Geneva website and register for their newsletter for more details.
Geneva Brasswind Ltd can be found at Geneva House, 18 Ellerbeck Way, Terry Dicken Business Park, Stokesley, North Yorkshire, TS9 5JZ