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Social responsibility case study: Fuzzy supports music workshops

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

Smarter Staff
Smarter Writer

This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

John Wall and Ming Gan started Fuzzy as a dance event at a Sydney nightclub in 1996, and their electronic music dreams have evolved into an events empire with outdoor festivals across five capital cities.

But that’s not the only music Fuzzy is promoting.

Fuzzy’s music events include Parklife, Harbourlife and the jewel in their crown, Field Day, which attracts international music talent and more than 25,000 punters to Sydney’s Domain on New Year’s Day.
Based in Sydney’s Darlinghurst, Fuzzy remains a lean operation, with fewer than 20 full-time staff. But the company is known for its charity initiative, a youth outreach program called Heaps Decent.

children and adults playing with instruments

A decent idea

Heaps Decent is a musical education program targeted towards underprivileged and at-risk youth. Each month or so, volunteers go to regional areas and run workshops that teach kids how to make, perform and record music. As well as engaging youngsters who may not be responding at school, the workshops give kids a channel for their creativity and let them learn in a safe environment outside school hours.

The idea was sparked by a touring American DJ, Diplo (Wesley Pentz), who set up a similar program in the United States.

Fuzzy supports Heaps Decent financially, and also supplies special guests who drop in for sessions while on tour for their festivals. 

“We thought it was such a great thing,” says Fuzzy co-founder Ming Gan. “We tour a hell of a lot of acts who would love to get involved with helping out underprivileged kids and teaching them about music. So there was that side of things where we could actually supply the talent, but there was also the issue of funding.” 

Gan proposed a system he’d seen work at big events overseas. “I’d been to a festival — I think it was Lovebox in the UK — and I was on the guest list and they said it was a 20 quid donation,” he says. “They explained what it was for [it went to a charity] and I thought ‘That’s a pretty good idea!’ So basically, I brought that in and proposed it and everyone went for it. That was the model, we were going to be the main funders of Heaps Decent.”

We tour a hell of a lot of acts who would love to get involved with helping out underprivileged kids and teaching them about music.

- Ming Gan, Fuzzy

The next phase

All press or complimentary pass holders to any Fuzzy event now donate $20 towards Heaps Decent.  The five-year-old organisation now has a handful of employees of its own, but Gan says the plan has always been for Heaps Decent to branch out from Fuzzy and stand on its own. The company only has festivals a few times a year, but Heaps Decent runs throughout.

“I think we were straight up with them,” says Gan. “We said it was a great thing and that we were fully supportive. But who knows how long we’re going to be around? We may decide that it’s important for us to start supporting another charity. They need to be able to stand on their own two feet.”

But that doesn’t mean Fuzzy is about to walk away — the results are too gratifying. “It’s crazy! We see the videos that the guys send us from their workshops and the kids really love it. Some of these kids, you can’t even get them to turn up at school, but they’ll turn up every week to the workshop. To see them happy, that’s honestly why we do it.”

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