Charlene Hegarty, Talent Development and Projects Coordinator and Sian Mulholland, Youth Engagement Manager

 21 January 2019

Charlene and Sian were the winners of the Creative Industry Skills Award 2018 at the annual Creative & Cultural Skills Northern Ireland Awards. We spoke to them about their passion for the industry and the projects they're working which support young people in music.

Sian and Charlene work with young people, developing their skills for work in the music industry.
Sian and Charlene work with young people, developing their skills for work in the music industry.

What job do you do?

Charlene: I am the Talent Development and Projects Coordinator at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast.

Sian: I am the Youth Engagement Manager at Oh Yeah Music Centre

How did you get your current position?

Charlene: It was a competitive application process but thankfully my 13+ years’ experience in the music industry won through, and my passion for all things artist development provided a harmonious match for the ambitions of the Oh Yeah Music Centre.

Sian: I had been volunteering for Oh Yeah since they opened 11 years ago, doing anything and everything around the centre from working with youth groups, running events to cleaning up after gigs!

I have never been more passionate about an organisation or loved my work as much.

I was on maternity leave when I was told I was going to be made redundant from my previous job, at the same time Oh Yeah advertised for this role and it felt very serendipitous, it was definitely meant to be! I have never been more passionate about an organisation or loved my work as much. I feel very fortunate to do what I do. 

Tell me a bit about your day to day work

Charlene: I am responsible for a number of projects within the Oh Yeah Centre. 'Volume Control' is a youth mentoring scheme designed to equip 14-19 year olds with the skills to run their own all ages live music gigs. 'Scratch My Progress' is our flagship talent development scheme which seeks to strengthen the prospects of our emerging music talent in the region.

My role is to provide a stable and accelerated learning environment so the young people can grow their confidence and learn new skills. We give them the chance to put those new skills to work in a real-life settings and use those skills to further their prospects in the music industry.

Sian: I manage a project called More Volume, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. It's an events mentoring project for young people, we work with young people to develop the skills around live events management and the music industry. Every day is so varied. Some days I am up to my eyes in admin for our programmes and our OCN qualifications. Other days I can be out meeting young people on our programmes or having meetings with community partners as part of our outreach projects.

I love the days that I get to work alongside the young people in our groups, those days are spent getting ready for the sessions and then having a laugh with the young people and getting ready for the events they're planning. 

How did it feel to win the award?

We are very committed to our work and the award serves as a wonderful reminder that our hard work is recognised and we are very grateful for that recognition, thank you.

Charlene: We are so thrilled. We work hard to make sure our work creates a positive and lasting impact on the young people who show an interest in music, both on and off the stage. We are very committed to our work and the award serves as a wonderful reminder that our hard work is recognised and we are very grateful for that recognition, thank you.

Sian: I was so proud! I haven't won anything since my school days so I was absolutely delighted when my co-worker Charlene messaged me to say that we had won. It means an awful lot to be recognised for the work we do, especially because we are both so passionate about our jobs. It also felt like a recognition of the young people we work with - we couldn't do any of our programmes if they didn't turn up and give their commitment.

What are your plans for the future

Charlene: The Oh Yeah Centre is committed to talent development and I share that commitment. In the future we aim to reach more artists and music fans.

We will continue to do everything within our power to support the music scene in Northern Ireland and we believe key to that are industry standard skills development initiatives, access to timely support/advice and artist friendly codes of practise.

Sian: I have just finished year one of a four year project so we are currently planning for year two. We want to make it bigger, better and more impactful. After that we will be trying to ensure sustainability of the project and seeking further funding to broaden it out. 

What advice would you give to others?

Charlene: Just don't stop. The creative industries are notoriously tough but if you have the commitment, focus and tireless work ethic the creative industries can offer the most rewarding, challenging and fulfilling career you could wish for.  

The creative industries are notoriously tough but if you have the commitment, focus and tireless work ethic the creative industries can offer the most rewarding, challenging and fulfilling career you could wish for.

Sian: Do something you're passionate about. If you believe in your work it makes everything so much easier. I would encourage anyone struggling to get employment in their chosen field to seek volunteering opportunities. I put in my own fair share of unpaid hours to get the experience and to understand what I wanted to do (and what I didn't want to do!) before finally landing my dream job in Oh Yeah!

Also, it helps if you have a team of people around you that you get along with and that you know have your back when things are stressful and you need some help! 


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