Calling all songwriters with a connection to Milton Keynes… PLEASE NOTE APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED


Are you a musician and songwriter interested in documentary songwriting, highlighting the stories of ordinary people and places?

Would you like to learn new songwriting approaches and techniques?

You will learn about being commissioned as a creative artist and how work is produced for the wider public. You will find out about place-based and community arts, learning how to engage with diverse people, communities and ideas.

We are offering a 1 day workshop on Saturday 27th April (all expenses covered) with Sean Cooney (Young’uns), one of the UK’s leading documentary songwriters. Mentoring by a local songwriter will be offered after the workshop; a paid commission and performance opportunity will be available for the best songs produced in response to the brief.

Living Archive Future Songwriters

Living Archive Milton Keynes is looking for songwriters who come from, live in or near MK, who are interested in creating songs to tell the stories of local people, places and communities. In our 40th Anniversary year, we want to connect with songwriters from all backgrounds who are interested in documentary songwriting and in making work which responds to the stories and lives recorded in our archive.

The background

Since its foundation, Living Archive has been committed to sharing the stories of local people in creative ways; songs and music have always been a rich and important part of that mix. The Living Archive Band, which was formed to create music for Living Archive’s community documentary plays, began life in 1976. Over 100 songs have been written by local musicians for Living Archive about local people and their stories; 36 of these songs were featured in the MK Song Book ( We would like to find new songwriters who are interested in taking this legacy forward.

The project

In 2024, Living Archive celebrates its 40th Anniversary. We are planning a concert which will feature local choirs and music by the Living Archive Band. We would also like to feature new songs and performers, reflecting different aspects of city life; past and present. We want to connect with new songwriters for this project but also with possible future projects in mind.

Working in partnership with The Stables, we are offering shortlisted songwriters a workshop with Sean Cooney of the Young’uns, one of the UK’s leading documentary songwriters. We hope to commission some of the songwriters to develop their songs for inclusion in our 40th Anniversary Concert. 

Who we are looking for

  • We are open to working with songwriters of all genres, as long as they have a demonstrable interest in telling the stories of real people and real places.
  • We would like all songwriters to be able to respond to the particular social landscape of Milton Keynes. They should have a personal connection to the city in some way.
  • We are keen to hear from songwriters of all ages and backgrounds, but we are particularly interested in:
    • Global majority songwriters
    • Those from marginalised communities

We would like the songs created during the project to reflect the true diversity of Milton Keynes’ population.

What we are offering

All the shortlisted songwriters will be invited to attend an initial workshop on Saturday 27th April This workshop will be free to attend for those selected; we will also cover the costs of travel and food on the day (all amounts to be agreed in advance).

At the workshops, songwriters will be given edited materials from our archive (photos, film, recorded interviews, transcripts etc) along with a brief for a song we would like them to create. We would like each songwriter to create a song based on the material provided. This might be, for example, a song about Albert Bernard, one of the UK’s first black police officers, who worked on the Lakes Estate, or Nas Khan, who empowers local women by giving them employment in her restaurant kitchen in Wolverton. Or it might be about an event, like the MK Black Lives Matter protest, or personal memories of working in a supermarket during the Covid 19 pandemic.

Participants will also have the opportunity to apply for one of 3 paid songwriting commissions, to develop a new song for performance at Living Archive’s our 40th Anniversary concert on 6 October 2024.

Songwriters could either write songs to perform themselves, or to be performed by one of the local choirs or performers who will feature in the concert. If you are composing for a choir, we will offer specific mentoring on this.

How to apply

If you are interested in being part of the project, please send us the following:

  • Some information about your background (300 words max). We would like to know a bit about you; where you come from and your relationship to Milton Keynes
  • Some information about your songwriting (300 words max): what interests you, your style, where you hope your songwriting will take you, why you are interested in being involved in this project. We will consider songwriters with all levels of experience.
  • Two recorded samples of your work (either audio or video). This should include at least one of your own songs. This can be DIY home recorded; please just send the best quality recording you can manage. This is so we can get a sense of your performance and songwriting experience.

If you prefer, you can send us a video of yourself to provide the information we ask for in 1) and 2). This should last no more than 5 minutes. It should be sent in addition to the recorded samples of your work.

Please send your applications to [email protected]. The closing date for applications is 5pm, Friday 22 March 2024.

If you have any questions, please contact Poppy Hollman, Creative Coordinator: [email protected]

In partnership with The Stables

This work is made possible by funding from the Milton Keynes Community Foundation

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