Founder of Ireland NPO Blastbeat Education Robert Stephenson was the special guest at GliPub’s special opening report in August. Introduced by event co-ordinator Akiyuki Minami, Mr Stephenson spoke at length about youth culture and how his organisation interact and help the young.
Here are some of the highlights from his speech:
I understand the youth’s struggle because I was there.
When I was in college, I met the, then, up and coming band U2. Inspired by their music, I helped promote them. After graduation, I ran a successful music production company. However, I fell into the classic rock music trap of drink and drugs. It got so bad I even considered suicide at one stage
In 1992, I was depressed; and, I joined a 10-day meditation programme that one of my friends suggested. I got up at 4am and meditated. There was no talking at all. It was my turning point. After this experience, I began to think about supporting young people.
Ireland has the third highest number of suicides in Europe. Drug and alcohol problems are very serious and young people do not have many places to go at the weekends besides McDonalds. So, I decided to hold a concert on a Saturday afternoon for new bands. The concert was a success and although I didn’t make any money I was involved in music again. By continuing the Saturday concerts for young people I thought about how I could integrate the music community with school educational system and encourage young people.
Mini Company Programme
Whilst talking to a music teacher friend I came up with the idea for young people to run a music and multi-media company. I could teach them how to arrange concerts and to manage a record company.
I asked students.: “Who is interested in music?” “Who wants to make money?” “Do you want to use the money to help people in need?” Then, everyone raised their hands. “OK. That IS Blastbeat.” I can draw students’ attentions within a minute. Blastbeat is not a class or homework, but an extracurricular activity.
The students launched a music and multi-media company and assigned positions of their choice from 14 various occupations, such as CEO, Sales Manager, Scouting, Accounting, Journalist, Cameraman, Video Crews, Art Design, IT, Security, and Ecology manager. And, they create the business plan, budget, create a sales promotion project, design logo and website, scout local bands, promote the bands, and operate the concerts all by themselves. At the end of the three-month condensed programme, they hold a band battle concert and select the best band .
Donate 25% of profit to Charity
Charity plays a big part of Blastbeat’s vision. We obligate the students to donate 25% of final profit to charities of their choice. With comprehensive learning experiences that Blastbeat offers, they learn everything such as how to start business, to compromise, to keep the deadline, to earn money, to contribute to society with what they earn. The final goal is to create a global network for the young creative people.
Development in Japan
Currently, Blastbeat is in Ireland, seven cities in the US, UK, and South Africa, and plans to expand to India and South America. I’ve heard that schools in Japan are conservative. So, I would like to start with cultivating mentors who will become advisors of activities at music schools, private schools, and International schools. I would like to find schools that are willing to introduce Blastbeat and start with six cities. I plan to expand the programme in two different ways in Japan. One is commercial and other is non-profit for schools.
Blastbeat Education Website: www.blastbeat.org
Written by Naoko Matsue
Translated by Shino Maruyama