Free rock tickets! (If you do community work, that is...)

'RockCorps' scheme imported from the US will give seat at gig in return for four hours of volunteering
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

It is difficult enough to get the average teenager out of bed in the morning, never mind persuading them to volunteer for good works in his or her community. Television bosses have decided that engaging teenagers in altruistic efforts is such a hard task that they have come up with a reality television programme offering tickets to pop and rock concerts as an incentive for them to "give back" to their communities.

Over the next two months 5,000 young people aged 16 to 25 will undertake four hours of volunteering in exchange for a ticket to a one-off concert at the Royal Albert Hall, London, on 29 September. No tickets will go on sale for the Orange RockCorps gig, which will be headlined by Busta Rhymes.

The RockCorps concept comes from the US, where it has been running for four years, attracting the backing of top artists including Kanye West, Panic at the Disco, Kelis and Nelly.

Some 35,000 young people have taken part in the US programme, and the "bribery" seems to work. Within a year, more than a third of those involved volunteered again; this time with no carrot.

The first of these projects in the UK, which will all be filmed as part of a Channel 4 reality TV show, to be screened later this year, took place last week at Winton Primary School in King's Cross, London. Using 50 volunteers, they built a roof garden and vegetable patch for the school, in less than four hours.

Sunil Sandhu, 20, who took part, said: "I came across the scheme a few days ago on the internet. There's a nice incentive and I think that it might mean people who wouldn't have thought of volunteering will take part."

Penny Spencer, the school's headteacher, said: "It's not the average teenager that gets involved in volunteering, and a rock concert is a good way to get them hooked."

Projects for the Albert Hall show will be based in Manchester, Newcastle, Cardiff and Southampton. More gigs and schemes are planned for 2009 and 2010.

Stephen Greene, head of RockCorps in the US, came up with the idea with two friends who organised concerts in Colorado in the 1990s. They gave away 200 tickets to anyone who helped set up the stage or clear up. "We were so impressed with how much work people would do for a concert ticket that we thought about turning it into something bigger," Mr Greene said. "Once these young people have volunteered once, they're always keen to do it again."

Comments