EUTV is a regular online event featuring outstanding artists every Monday night 7.30 – 8.30. This coming Monday features a stunning voice millions have enjoyed countless times Andrea Grant – backing vocalists to the stars, such as Lisa Stansfield, Will Young and many more. She’ll be special-guesting, with some live songs plus chatting with our hosts. Recent guests have included Tony Hadley, Alison Limerick, Toyah, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Dan from The Feeling, Mim Grey and many more
Guest sessions, singalongs, songwriting sessions, the Saturday breakfast club, open mic nights, club nights. People just sign up for an account and away they go.
EU is a Watford based charity set up by professional musicians, challenging the perception about people with learning disabilities. They use music to help combat social isolation for their adult members with learning disabilities as well as promoting self confidence and independence. It used to work purely with in person groups around Hertfordshire but then Covid struck and they had to move online and in doing so picked up a lot of new members all over the UK. Moving online they developed a whole week’s worth of free content to engage the young people and that was when we got involved.
In 2013, Musician Tom Billington and Art Therapist Mel Boda recognised a lack of opportunity for adults with learning disabilities to express themselves and represent who they really are.
“We started running workshops once a week and putting on shows, raising small amounts of money to keep it going through crowdfunding campaigns and busking opportunities.
“It all happened very organically, we had a small but very dedicated and wonderful group of people who were up for working with us so we just started… we had no idea what it was going to turn into.
“Over the first couple of years we ran hundreds of hours of music workshops, performed to thousands of people at gigs across a ridiculous amount of shows and held our first first summer festival, Umbrellafest.
“We became a registered charity in January 2016 and began looking for consistent funding streams to continue our work.
What Tom and Mel have created is nothing short of amazing. They have developed an approach that pulls everyone in, where everyone is valued and nothing is impossible. It’s loud and proud, bold and it’s beautiful.
“The reach of Electric Umbrella goes way beyond the 60 members attending sessions. Electric Umbrella has become a community for the members, their extended families, support networks and friends; also encompassing the musicians and hundreds of others that experience the joy of Electric Umbrella by attending our gigs and events.
Electric Umbrella is run by Mel Boda (CEO) and Tom Billington (Artistic Director) who both have extensive experience of community arts, the professional world of art and entertainment, and supporting adults with learning disabilities.
Mel is a visual artist with vast experience of creating and exhibiting work, as well as being a HCPC registered Art Therapist with extensive experience of working in the community.
Tom is a professional musician with huge experience of being in bands, touring and making records together with writing music for circus, TV and film, community work and education. Tom has an exceptional gift for working with people with complex needs and sharing the joy of music.
Co-creation and a ‘can-do’ attitude is at the heart of what Electric Umbrella is all about and Mel and Tom very much run the charity with this as an ethos to everything they do.
WATCH AND LISTEN selected music videos