ActionAid Live emergency music network launched by Oxford musician

Stuart Fowkes
Image caption Stuart Fowkes has raised money through music for more than 10 years

The charity ActionAid claims it has launched the world's first "emergency music network" - and the man behind it is a musician from Oxford.

Stuart Fowkes, 32, from the band Listing Ships, devised ActionAid Live to enable musicians to spring into action when a humanitarian emergency strikes.

By signing up to the service, they join a network of bands, promoters and venues ready to lend a hand.

They will also be given access to flyers and posters and be guided on how to put on a fundraising event.

Explaining how the project works, Mr Fowkes said: "An emergency hits and we effectively press the figurative big red button back in the office.

"Everyone gets a text explaining what we're doing to respond and email updates on the emergency relief effort.

"Basically we say we're there, we're raising money, pick up your guitars and get out there."

The initiative has the support of Radio 1 DJ Huw Stephens and bands including The Wombats, Everything Everything and Cancer Bats.

Big name artists

Stuart Fowkes has played in the Oxford bands Sunnyvale Noise Sub-Element, The Evenings, From Light to Sound and Listing Ships.

He first combined his passions for music and charity when he co-founded Audioscope with Simon Minter in 2001.

The yearly festival has celebrated its tenth anniversary and made more than £20,000 for homeless charity Shelter.

Over the years it has featured acts including Wire, Four Tet, Clinic, Damo Suzuki, and Michael Rother from Krautrock trend-setters Neu!.

Image caption Everything Everything have backed ActionAid Live

Mr Fowkes said: "It gave me the bug for putting on gigs and being involved with charity and it's from there that a lot of the stuff I've done has developed."

He later got a job at Oxfam and was there in 2006 when it created its own music-fundraising event called Oxjam.

Its launch gig included acts The Kooks, Jarvis Cocker and Fatboy Slim, but Mr Fowkes was not fazed in their presence.

"Big name pop artists aren't the type of music I listen to, but I have met people I've revered for years at Audioscope.

"You have surreal out of body experiences when you realise you're driving to the airport to pick up the bloke from Can, or phoning NHS Direct to get a prescription because Michael Rother is having back trouble."

He worked at Oxjam for four years "leaving it in a good place" and £1.5m richer.

The launch of ActionAid Live comes three months after Mr Fowkes joined the charity as PR manager.

"It became clear there were a lot of interesting things going on in different pockets and it was just a case of pulling them together.

"There were bands doing gigs for the East Africa food crisis and we were setting up an emergency fundraising network where individuals could do events to help relief efforts, whether with bake sales, prize draws or raffles.

"So it seemed quite an obvious step to get bands to take action when there is a humanitarian disaster."

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