A PARTNERSHIP between Barnsley Youth Choir and the town’s largest employer will commence in a bid to provide more opportunities for local children to get into singing.
Great Houghton-based online fashion giant ASOS has become a major corporate sponsor of the acclaimed group.
The choir - a charity run by volunteers that relies on the support of the community - provide opportunities for children and young people across the borough and has more than 500 youngsters on its books.
The newly-announced sponsorship will support the choir with running costs and help leaders provide additional support to struggling families through its bursary scheme.
ASOS’s distribution hub opened in 2011 and is the largest private sector employer in the borough with circa 4,000 people working at the site, off Park Spring Road.
Mat Wright MBE, artistic director of Barnsley Youth Choir, said: “We are pleased to have agreed this partnership and we are enormously grateful to ASOS for making this commitment to young people in the town.
“This money will support the choir and its members, many of whom face significant financial challenges and struggle to pay even heavily subsidised costs.
“It was clear that, even in initial discussions, ASOS is an organisation that genuinely cares about the local community and this support will have a positive impact on the 500-plus children that now access our provision.
“We look forward to working together and hope that this is the start of a long-lasting and positive relationship for ASOS, the choir and the town.”
The choir was established in 2009 by conductor Mat and Keith Norton and is ranked fifth in the Interkultur World Rankings - the highest-ranked choir from Great Britain - and has won eight first prizes in some of the biggest international competitions in the world.
A permanent home for the choir will finally come to fruition after a multi-million pound bid was approved late last year, paving the way for its opening by 2025.
Members will occupy the former Computer Centre building on the corner of St Mary’s Place and Westgate in the town centre.
The building will be known as the NAVE - Northern Academy for Vocal Excellence - and will also engage with other organisations to provide a hub for singing regionally and nationally, building an ‘international reputation’ from the base.
Chris Smith, a director of logistics at ASOS, added: “The people of the town have been pivotal to the growth and success of ASOS and that’s why we’re delighted to give back to the community and support the inspirational Barnsley Youth Choir.
“Our purpose is to give people the confidence to be whoever they want to be and that is exactly what the choir seeks to do for young people in the borough.
“We can’t wait to attend our first concert.”
Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, who is a patron of the choir, praised the partnership.
“I am enormously proud to be a patron of the choir as they do incredible work promoting access to music for our young people and are an indispensable part of our cultural scene.
“Barnsley Youth Choir has represented our town on the national and international stage and never fails to inspire me every time I hear their spellbinding performances.”